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Bafana will contest Plate final without Baxter

Thabo Senong

THABO SENONG will lead Bafana Bafana in tomorrow’s Cosafa Plate final against Namibia at Moruleng Stadium (kick-off 7pm), after Stuart Baxter was given marching orders in their 2-0 victory over Botswana on Tuesday.

Baxter was given a straight red card after he reportedly swore in his appeal to the fourth match official in an effort to allow his team doctor onto the pitch, as one of his players remained flat on the ground following a head injury.

Baxter, afterwards, said that he could have reacted much better towards the official, who seemed to react nonchalantly to the injury on the pitch.

Senong (pictured), who has been serving as Baxter’s assistant throughout this tournament, will hope to lead Bafana to a victory in a final that serves as a consolation prize after the senior national side failed to defend their Cosafa Cup title by losing 1-0 to Tanzania in the quarter-final match-up.

Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates midfielder, Riyaad Norodien expressed his elation at reaching the Plate final, adding that a further good performance might see some of the players who participated in this tournament, getting national call-ups in more important Bafana fixtures, such as the 2018 Fifa World Cup and 2019 Afcon qualifiers.

“We just need to continue working hard and keep raising our hands in each and every opportunity we get,” said the 22-year old midfielder who scored an opener in that 2-0 victory over the Zebras. “We want to be called-up in (more important) Bafana fixtures but what’s key for each and every one of us is to make sure that maintain the hunger and the desire to play for the senior national team so that the coach (consider them in the future).”

“It’s always going to be tough, whether you are playing in a friendly or a competitive match (for the senior national team),” Norodien added. “We just have to come with our thinking caps on and do what the coach expects of us on the day and push for the result. If we do that, I truly believe that we can dismantle teams quite easily, like we did in our match against Botswana.

“We created several scoring opportunities and could have scored more, if only we could have had a little more composure in front of goal.”