'The question is can we use Cosafa as preparation for Afcon?' asks Bafana coach Baxter

16 April 2019 - 16:31 By Sazi Hadebe
Stuart Baxter coach of South Africa during South Africa Team Announcement on the 01 October 2018 at SAFA House.
Stuart Baxter coach of South Africa during South Africa Team Announcement on the 01 October 2018 at SAFA House.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is yet to make a decision on whether to use this year's Cosafa Cup as his main preparation event ahead of the African Nations Cup in Egypt in June.

This year’s tournaments‚ however‚ remains up in the air after Zimbabwe suddenly pulled out of hosting the annual event without warning last month.

Cosafa spokesperson Lynda Greef said they remain hopeful that they will find a host for the tournament.

The organisation's disciplinary committee will also metes out punishment to Zimbabwe for their decision to pull out of the commitment they made in January.

The 14-team tournament was supposed to kick off from May 25 to June 8 but Zimbabwe Football Association reneged on the signed agreement as hosts‚ citing financial strain.

“The question is can we use Cosafa as preparation?” asked Baxter.

“We know that we won’t get our foreign players as part of that preparation.

“But can we use those games?

"Is it correct to use that when we are maybe meeting Namibia or someone else we might be meeting there? That will be a consideration.

“We were also planning to maybe have a pre-camp somewhere in the middle east. Nothing is definite but that was also a thought.”

Baxter said a lot of countries approached Safa about the possibility of arranging preparation friendly games but they never seriously entertained those requests as they came before last Friday's Nations Cup draw.

Bafana were pitted against Ivory Coast‚ Namibia and Morocco in Group D after the draw was conducted in Cairo last Friday.

“Cosafa is our only option at this moment‚” said Baxter of the event in which they might come up against Namibia a few weeks before they meet again in Egypt.

The tournament could be of help to the five Cosafa affiliated countries - South Africa‚ Zimbabwe‚ Angola‚ Namibia and Madagascar - as they prepare for the Afcon finals in Egypt from June 21 to July 19.

Zimbabwe were drawn in what looks like‚ on paper at least‚ the real group death in Group A where they have hosts Egypt‚ DR Congo and Uganda as their opponents.

Angola are in Group E where they will have to negotiate their progress to the second round against Tunisia‚ Mali and Mauritania while Madagascar completes a tough Group B which has Nigeria‚ Guinea and Burundi.