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Baxter frustrated as Bafana struggle to secure friendlies ahead of Afcon

04 June 2019 - 17:11 By Marc Strydom
Stuart Baxter during the International friendly match between South Africa and Zambia at Moruleng Stadium on June 13, 2017.
Stuart Baxter during the International friendly match between South Africa and Zambia at Moruleng Stadium on June 13, 2017.
Image: International friendly: South Africa v Zambia

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has been left frustrated by only one pre-Africa Cup of Nations Cup warm-up friendly having been confirmed with 20 days until the national team’s kickoff against Ivory Coast in Cairo on June 24.

South Africa’s only confirmed friendly international at present is against Ghana in Dubai‚ where Bafana will camp for a few days en route to Egypt‚ just after the national team leave South Africa on June 10.

Baxter – who oversaw the fourth training session for the now 27-man preliminary squad‚ after the withdrawal through injury of Keagan Dolly‚ at Steyn City in Johannesburg on Tuesday – said he will announce a final squad just before the departure for Dubai.

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Baxter’s plan had been to play a friendly in Johannesburg before that announcement‚ but so far‚ with five days to go of the South African leg of the preparations‚ that has yet to materialise.

The coach had wanted to play one more team in Dubai other than Ghana‚ and so far plans to play Uganda and Angola have not been tied down.

“No‚ unfortunately we’ve got no definite plans yet.

"We’re still trying but it’s looking a little bit forlorn‚” Baxter said on the international he had hoped to play in South Africa.

The coach said he was not giving up on still lining up a friendly.

“I’ll go until the last minute because I think we need it‚” he said.

Baxter‚ asked what the stumbling block has been organising matches‚ indicated he was frustrated at the South Africa Football Association (Safa) for leaving the organisation late.

“It’s too much last minute. It’s too much being at the last minute trying to solve all the problems‚” the coach said.

“It’s just not happening. I’m supposing that if we were to pay for three days at a hotel for any of the Cosafa Cup teams‚ flying them up in first class‚ we’d get people wanting to play.

“But for the conditions that we’ve got‚ at the last minute‚ I think it’s probably not too interesting for them.”

A shadow SA Under-23 combination are currently competing in the Cosafa Cup in Durban.

Baxter continued: “We’ve got Ghana‚ that’s definite. We’ve had Uganda who we’ve been struggling to find a date with.

“We’ve got Angola who are interested to play against us and we’re trying to find a date‚ either in Dubai or after we land in Egypt.

“As it stands Ghana are the definite ones we’ve got.”

Bafana are also drawn with Morocco and Namibia in the 2019 Nations Cup’s Group D.