Bafana coach Baxter dismisses Nigeria counterpart Rohr: 'He's not fooling anybody'
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was not buying Nigeria counterpart Gernot Rohr's assertion that South Africa are now the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) favourites after shocking hosts Egypt in the last-16 on Saturday night.
Baxter expressed his belief in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday for Wednesday's quarterfinal against the Super Eagles at Cairo International Stadium (kickoff 9pm)‚ that Rohr was playing mind games.
The Bafana coach was eager to preserve the underdog tag for his team that worked so well for them in a bulldog spirit 1-0 shock of host nation Egypt in front of 75‚000 home fans at Cairo International on Saturday.
"Not at all. I think the Nigerians are absolutely one of the best teams on the continent. They have been for a long time‚" Baxter said.
"They have been a powerhouse of African football for a long time. And one game doesn't make us favourites.
"I think Gernot would love to have that tag as underdogs‚ and in that way slip the pressure from you guys [Nigeria].
"But I don't think he's fooling anybody to tell you the truth.
"No‚ we'll go into the game as we do every game.
"When we hit that balance between good organisation and still getting the ball in play and playing with pace‚ and closing people down at pace‚ and using the natural inherent ability and technique‚ we can give anybody on this continent a good game.
"Therefore we go into every game knowing that we have the chance to win and the chance to lose. And that is how we'll approach this game.
"We'll respect Nigeria and not fear them. And we'll absolutely not think that we're the favourites.
"We will know that we have to produce a very good South Africa performance if we're going to beat them."
Nigeria have enjoyed a long‚ easy domination over Bafana. However‚ the Super Eagles have not beaten South Africa in five matches.
In the Egypt 2019 qualifiers‚ Bafana‚ in Baxter's first match‚ earned a first-ever competitive victory against Nigeria‚ and away too‚ in Uyo in June 2017. They drew the return match in Johannesburg 1-1.
Rohr made his statements in an interview on Monday night.
On Tuesday‚ in the Nigerian pre-match conference directly after South Africa's the experienced‚ intelligent German coach was at it again.
"We saw South Africa's game against Egypt.
"We of course know South Africa very well because they were in our qualifying group‚" Rohr said.
"I think when you win in Egypt‚ in these circumstances‚ against a good Egypt team with some of the best players in Africa‚ you will be full of confidence.
"And South Africa deserved to win. They were the better team. And for me‚ when you beat the favourites‚ in Egypt‚ you are the favourites yourself.
"We played a good game against Cameroon. We also have confidence. So we should expect a match of high quality."
Nigeria beat West African rivals Cameroon 3-2 in Saturday's earlier last-16 thriller.