South Africa’s head coach Stuart Baxter has responded to the confirmation of venue for Bafana Bafana’s crunch 2019 AFCON qualifier against Libya next month.
Libya’s football federation, forced to move matches to neutral venues due to stadium violence and political unrest, have confirmed they will take South Africa to Sfax, Tunisia.
Bafana’s coach Baxter has expressed content over the confirmation, saying the venue is not too far of his initial guesses.
“We’ve had to really back off on the scouting in general because there were rumours that it would be in Egypt‚” the coach told TimesLIVE.
“We thought Sfax sounded like the logical one – 60 kilometres from Libya’s border and they can maybe get their supporters in‚ and they’d played there before.
“I’m pleased that the date is going to be the 24th [Sunday] and not the 22nd [Friday]‚ so that gives us two more days [to prepare].
“But in terms of going and doing a recce‚ we held Barney back.
“ … We’ve been doing very big‚ broad strokes [in research]. I’ve got people I know in Tunisia and I’ve asked them their opinions‚ and about the different stadiums and accessibility‚ etc etc.
“Barney’s done a broad stroke check on hotels. So we’ve got the big brushstrokes. Now that we’ve got the confirmation of the venue today we can narrow down on the details.
The British-born coach further revealed that he will do much in terms of mentally preparing his men for any mind games.
“I think the venue is as good as we can get. I mean you can suspect that there’s going to be‚ let’s say in inverted commas‚ surprises‚ no matter where we’re going to go‚” he said.
“Is the grass cut short‚ is it left long‚ is it watered‚ is it not? The dressing room accessibility. Suddenly the toilets don’t work.
“And I think we’ve got to make sure that plays absolutely no role in our mindset.
“I don’t think it [adaptation] is one of the things we [SA] are well known for. But wherever we go‚ whoever we play‚ we’ve got to pitch up‚ have a steady mindset and put on a performance,” he concluded.
A point for the South Africans will seal a place at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt that begins in June.