The Bafana Bafana coach has his home game at altitude – he made it quite clear he would have preferred to play there than at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last September, where Bafana were held to a goalless draw by Libya in Durban, a real failure to follow up on the superb win in Nigeria.
The Bafana coach also has in-form strikers that could well give Bafana an edge in these two games that they sorely lacked against Libya.
Percy Tau was just getting used to life in Belgium then, for example, but now he is buzzing, netting his first goal for his new club on the weekend, and seemingly fast becoming a fans’ favourite.
Lebo Mothiba, too, netted twice at the weekend, and should be fully fit after being pulled out of the last Bafana squad, not exactly putting his club Strasbourg in Baxter’s good books. Dino Ndlovu has also been rifling in the goals in China’s second tier.
And then there is the opposition. The Seychelles, currently ranked 189th in the world, and already soundly beaten by both Libya and Nigeria in Group E.
“It is okay, but it is not professional football, for us it is great to play against teams like Nigeria or South Africa,” goalkeeper David Mussard told Marca.com when asked how football is in the island nation.
Mussard made just his second ever appearance for his country in the 3-0 loss at home to Nigeria – “I don’t know if I will be the goalkeeper for the rest of the games, I think that I could play again against South Africa,” he also told Marca.com.
Before the Libya game, Baxter emphasised that there were no small teams in football any more – but if there is a small team it is probably the Seychelles.
Bafana should be able to score plenty of goals on home turf and then win away, which will basically put them on the runway to Cameroon 2019, with an expanded tournament allowing the top two teams in each group to qualify.
The problem with Bafana Bafana these days, however, is that nothing is guaranteed. A side that beats Nigeria is taken down in home and away World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde, and also fails to beat Libya on home turf. Still, this is potentially a good Bafana squad that Baxter has selected, with in-form Premier Soccer League players like Thabo Nodada and Teboho Mokoena in the midfield mix, while Lebo Phiri of Guingamp in France also gets another chance.
One does also wonder just how full FNB Stadium will be on Saturday to cheer on the team. For very good reason, fans appear to have grown increasingly fed up with a side that constantly fails to meet expectation. It has, in some sense, been downhill ever since that Africa Cup of Nations win way back in 1996.
Still, we should be able to beat the Seychelles. Twice. Surely.
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