South Africa’s coach, Stuart Baxter has opted for strategies that cover up for the shot camping he had with his players.
Sport Village Square has gathered that the English man, whose team only assembled on Sunday and had had just two full days of training on Monday and Tuesday before taking a flight to Nigeria on Wednesday has told the players that tactical play will be the only option left for them.
South African sources informed Sports Village Square that Baxter told the Bafana Bafana players “to work under pressure in confined spaces‚ then release the ball quickly on the counterattack”.
They will train on Thursday afternoon after their flight to Uyo on the outer fields of the match venue‚ Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
Before leaving South Africa‚ Coach Stuart Baxter at training sessions was seen working the players to react quickly in confined spaces‚ preparing for the pressure Nigeria will undoubtedly try to put on them,
He analysed the Super Eagles as a mixture of youth and experience. He told his players that the Super Eagles “might be on the whole smaller physically than previous generations‚ but still like to play a high-tempo contact game.
“I think they’re a playing team. They’ve got a lot of players who want the ball into feet‚” Baxter said.
“They attack space because they’ve got speed up-front. If they build up they will attack space in-between and behind our defenders in the last third.
“Maybe they don’t have the same extreme physical capabilities of the earlier Nigerian teams. But I think that they are still physical in their approach to the game.
“They want to press the ball immediately after they lose it. They want to get in your face. I’m sure that they want to drive the tempo of the game on.
“I’m hoping that there will be a bit of that physicality about it. Because then I think our mobility‚ and our speed and skill‚ will come to the fore.”
Sports Village Square was also informed that some of Baxter’s training sessions have involved three teams keeping one-touch possession on volleyball-sized fields‚ in competition for the most touches.
Also, players worked to keep the ball in confined spaces‚ then releasing runners with cross-field passes. It said much of the pressurising approach the new Bafana coach expects from the Super Eagles‚ though Baxter said South Africa have more than one game plan lined up‚ depending on what Nigeria produce on the day.
“What we know is that they want to play a high tempo. That as soon as they lose the ball they immediately press. The same as (Liverpool manager) Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’‚” Baxter was quoted as saying.
“And we know that we’ve got to be good at getting out of that first pressure. If we do that‚ and the game opens slightly‚ then we have a chance to use our speed and mobility and hit them.
“And we may decide to press them really high. Or we may decide to drop off and create the space behind them for our quicker players to go into. It doesn’t really matter.
“But we’ve got to make sure that if we go‚ we go together. And if we stay‚ we stay together.
“And when we win the ball that we’re calm enough to get out of their pressure‚ and then use what we are good at,” Baxter remarked.