Exclusive: South Africa coach Stuart Baxter chats with naijafootballplus


Ahead of this weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa Naijafootballplus.com correspondent, Adepoju Tobi caught up with the South Africa contingent at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos on Thursday morning, as the Bafana Bafana embarked on their final phase of journey to Uyo.

Nigeria will host South Africa on Saturday at the Nest of Champions, Uyo for the 2019 AFCON qualifier matchday one encounter.

The newly appointed Bafana Bafana coach and former Supersport United manager, Stuart Baxter believes his team have prepared enough to cause an upset against the Super Eagles.

Naijafootballplus.com: Hello coach Baxter, welcome to Nigeria. How does it feel to be here?

Baxter: Nice to be in Nigeria, a committed and passionate football country. I’m excited to be here.

South Africa arrived Nigeria in the early hours of Thursday before jetting off to Uyo

Naijafootballplus.com: A big game on Saturday against Nigeria, how ready is your team?

Baxter: We are ready, we had a few injury scare when we resumed camping but we landed in Nigeria with the squad we are happy with. We have every member of the squad available for this big game, we are looking forward to the challenge.

Naijafootballplus.com: Media reports revealed that one of your best player Tokelo Rantie has been ruled out of the game. How true is this report about your squad?

Baxter: He trained in the last two days, he has recovered and he is hundred percent fit for the game. He was able to shake off the injury and he is available for the game.

Naijafootballplus.com: You are the only South African coach to have defeated Nigeria back in 2004 at the Mandela Challenge Cup. Do you think you have got the magic again?

South Africa coach, Stuart Baxter

Baxter: I feel honoured with the record and I hope I have got the magic this weekend. It’s a long time ago and many things have changed. We respect the Super Eagles because of their history, one of the most successful team in Africa with young and talented players. We are optimistic and we know we have the capacity to make an upset in Uyo, we will do everything tactically to get the result.

Naijafootballplus.com: We heard you have been scouting the Nigerian players and their preparation abroad. How much information have you gathered about your host?

Baxter: I have a lot of contacts in Europe and for the fact that Nigerian players are based in Europe, we set up a scouting program on the players. I have received reports about the team preparation in Corsica and Paris and we are working on the video reports to prepare ourselves.

Naijafootballplus.com: Nigeria have been preparing for weeks, your team got less than a week preparation. Will that be a factor on Saturday?

Baxter: Every coach want to prepare with his players for weeks, maybe one week or two not enough. We want more and more weeks to work with the players and prepare for the game. I knew about the situation when I took the job and we were all aware of the short preparation. I knew it’s going to be a short preparation and we have done our best to get the best from the players, they are professional and I’m expecting a big performance from them.

Naijafootballplus.com: We wish you and your team a great time in Nigeria.

Baxter: Thank you.

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