South Africa's Bafana Bafana arrived in Lagos on Wednesday evening in high spirits ahead of Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with the Super Eagles in Uyo.
The team was seen off by SA Football Association (Safa) president Dr Danny Jordaan, who wished coach Stuart Baxter and his troops all the best.
The Safa president impressed upon Thulani Hlatshwayo and his boys that Bafana Bafana was the biggest football brand on the continent and any major tournament they miss out would hurt the standing of that particular competition.
“Ironically, if there is a CAF Cup of Nations tournament without Bafana Bafana or Nigeria, it automatically becomes sort of a dump squib because these two nations have to constantly be there.”
“Part of Vision 2022 is to make sure that Bafana Bafana constantly qualifies for continental and global major tournaments and make an impression at each one. We need to qualify for Cameroon in 2019 and FIFA World Cup in Russia next year. We have a massive year ahead of us and a good showing in Uyo on Saturday would set the tone for the rest of this demanding year,” said Dr Jordaan.
Bafana Bafana rounded off their training session at home on Wednesday morning at FNB Stadium before heading straight for Nigeria.
They will have another training session later on Thursday in Uyo as Baxter impressed upon spoiling the party for the hosts.
“We need to guard against them going at us in the opening minutes. If we manage to frustrate them, the crowd would become restless and that would be a big starting point,” said Baxter adding the bottom line on Saturday would be a good result.
The wily mentor said it was important to respect the hosts who boast big name players but insisted Bafana Bafana was never afraid of any team on the continent or the world.
“Respect yes, but we don’t fear anyone,” said Baxter adding there was a huge belief in the air. “I believe the secret to having a good result on Saturday would be to do things collectively; attack and defend as a unit.”
Meanwhile, Baxter confirmed that injuries which had threatened to blight preparations had been well managed by the team’s medical staff.