Disappointment may have fallen on the nation like a suffocating blanket after Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup a few days ago but beleaguered coach Stuart Baxter believes that there is still something to salvage from the away dead rubber against tormentors Senegal tonight.
Baxter and his charges are desperately seeking redemption in Dakar after the clinical Senegalese extinguished SA’s hopes of qualifying for the global showpiece in a 2-0 win at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Friday night.
The West Africans qualified for the Russia tournament after beating the ailing South Africans on Friday and Baxter will hope the hosts are still floating on a cloud of contentment‚ and preferably in a less threatening mood than they were in Polokwane.
“It’s important to [win the dead rubber] on many levels‚ it is important because to take a scalp like Senegal away from home would be like the Nigeria game‚” the Briton said in reference to the historic 2-0 win over the Super Eagles in a 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier away from home in Uyo in June.
Baxter is also well aware that another defeat to the Senegalese in the space of a few days would put his regime under considerable scrutiny.
The Briton is already under pressure as Bafana have not qualified for a Soccer World Cup since Carlos Queiroz managed the feat 15 years ago.
Baxter has sent a message to youngsters knocking on the national team door to raise their hands as their time has come.
After Bafana’s World Cup qualification failure, Baxter will turn his attentions to rebuilding the team.
“We have procrastinated before and by the time they come in it is a bit too late for them,” he said.
Bafana Bafana could bring up an unwanted milestone in Dakar today as they face a 100th defeat in international football since readmission.
Friday’s loss in Polokwane was their 99th defeat of the last 25 years and the goal now will be to stave off three figures for as long as possible.