Home Sport The players put in what they could – Baxter

The players put in what they could – Baxter

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Consecutive losses against Cape Verde saw Bafana sink to the bottom of Group D, with only 2 games left that may not guarantee them a spot at the World Cup in Russia next year

CRESTFALLEN: Tokelo Rantie of South Africa dejected during the World Cup Qualifier match between South Africa and Cape Verde on Tuesday evening at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

BAFANA Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has taken the responsibility for South Africa’s double defeat to Cape Verde which leaves their World Cup 2018 qualification hopes resting on the results of other teams.

Consecutive 2-1 losses home and away against the islanders saw South Africa sink from joint top spot to the bottom of Group D, with two games left to play. Even if South Africa win against Burkina Faso in Johannesburg next month and get the better of Senegal in Dakar in November, it won’t guarantee a spot at the World Cup in Russia next year.

Baxter lamented the outcome of Tuesday night’s result in Durban, which came four days after they were humbled in Praia, and described it as his lowest moment in the game.

“If I wasn’t devastated before then I sure am now,” he said afterwards. “I have not had, anywhere that I have been, a more disappointing feeling than I have got now after a football game. I have seen a lot of teams beat South Africa, and a lot of those teams that beat South Africa were not as good as this.

“They played decently.”

Then too the home outfit should have won both matches to wrest control of the group and ensure qualification remained in their destiny, Baxter admitted.

“Bringing them here to this beautiful stadium and to a crowd that got behind us at the beginning of the game, I think that should have been enough. We should have had the quality to do it but we didn’t and that’s my fault. The players put in what they could.

“Cape Verde in the two games against us were a better team than I analysed in the three or four games before that. They are a more different proposition now than at the beginning of the campaign, but this doesn’t mean we couldn’t have got two wins.

“Although the lads showed great heart I don’t think the lack of taking our chances and the quickness of their counter-attacking it didn’t work, it didn’t work, so I’m massively disappointed. Now we’re relying on other results; we don’t have anything in our own hands which is very disappointing,” said the coach who is in his second spell in charge of the national team.

Baxter was grilled over his selections and substitution of striker Bradley Grobler with midfielder Andile Jali, but stood firm and defended the team’s approach after they conceded the opener Tuesday night via a free-kick from Garry Rodrigues, who completed a double.

“For every player changed you could ask me 10 questions, and I could sit here the whole night. Jali’s an attacking option, we were 2-0 down and I wanted all my attacking options on the field. I thought it was the right time to put him on.

“Many people will say it was the wrong time and the wrong player; that’s their opinion and that’s what football is about.”

For South Africa to have a shot at winning the group and qualifying for Russia, they must win their remaining matches and hope that Cape Verde drop points in their games.

Kamlesh Gosai