I beat Nigeria in the Dressing Room, Says South Africa’s Baxter

I beat Nigeria in the Dressing Room, Says South Africa’s Baxter

It may not be a mere coincidence that the two goals with which South Africa beat Nigeria’s Super Eagles came in the second half.

Sports Village Square gathered that Bafana Bafana’s man-of-the moment; Coach Stuart Baxter said his confidence was shaking in the first half when things did not work out the way he had expected in the opening 20 minutes when he had planned to silent the Uyo crowd.

TimesLive, a South African publication, reported that the coach said at that point he knew he had to “rectify key aspects if South Africa were to avoid being swamped by Nigeria”.

The team was reportedly not cohesive at that point. “I thought‚ the first half was 20 minutes under the cosh where we couldn’t get out. We didn’t have any meaningful possession‚ we didn’t open the field.

“I knew that if we continued to not open the field we were going to get bogged down. So‚ I had four things in my pocket that (assistant coach) Thabo Senong had written down that I thought I had to address‚ which if I didn’t we were going to get swamped; and if I did‚ we had a chance.

“Because we had done it twice‚ and that’s where we hit the post‚ and Keagan should have got a shot off and didn’t – but it was a great attack to get us there.

“And I turned to Thabo‚ and said‚ ‘That’s our game tonight‚ and we’ve not done it nearly enough’. That was because we had rushed when we had been in    possession‚ because we were chasing the game.

“So I went into the change-rooms‚ and it was calm‚ and I said‚ ‘Guys‚ this is our chance. If we open the game up we’ll be better than they think.

“They think they’re going to swamp us in the second half. He (Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr) is horse-whipping them in there’.

“I said‚ ‘Come on‚ we do this properly’. So we spoke about passing the ball into pockets of space (rather than to feet‚ keeping players’ backs to goal‚ meaning they would turn and lose possession).

“We spoke about turning Nigeria over more quickly. We spoke about getting our fullbacks higher down the line.

“And suddenly we’re playing better. And then the confidence showed‚ and the swagger‚ and the little back heels around the box.

“And that’s Bafana’s game. We’ve got to be organised defensively‚ and build upon that.”

Bafana’s opening goal came from an overlapping run and cross by right-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele‚ headed in by Tokelo Rantie in the 56th minute.

Zwane hit the post again from a fine build-up‚ then substitute Percy Tau caught Nigeria on the counter-attack from a South Africa corner for the second in the 80th.

 

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