Bafana Bafana boss Stuart Baxter says Saturday’s 2-0 away win against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at Akwa Ibom Stadium ranks among the best moments of his coaching career.
Coming into the game, South Africa had not beaten Nigeria in an official match and there was talk that Baxter had insufficient time to prepare for this crucial opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier for Cameroon 2019.
But the mentor said he had a gut feeling they would perform when he saw the energy levels in the players on the first day he took them for training last Monday and how they had all responded to his philosophy.
While cherishing this great win over one of the best football playing nations on the African continent, Baxter has cautioned his players to keep their feet firmly on the ground but build from this success which he called massive.
This result, however, must be cherished by all South Africans considering the circumstances at which it was achieved.
“I have received countless messages of congratulations, mostly from back home in South Africa. They are still trickling it and it goes to show what this win means for the country,” said an emotional Baxter.
“It is the way the victory was achieved which has been so emotional. The long trip to West Africa, the short preparation period and then go into the match and completely outplay the home favourites is something special,” reflected Baxter.
He said Bafana were cautious in the opening minutes but once they realised the Super Eagles were there for the taking, completely took control of the game.
“We were comfortable on the ball, hit the post twice; I am absolutely delighted. This is what South Africa should do on regular basis,” he said touching on how successful Vision 2022 was panning out.
So far South Africa has been one of the few countries to have most of the national teams qualify for major events with the U-23s, U-20s, U-17s and Banyana Banyana all qualifying for major continental and global tournaments.
Baxter praised the move that saw Themba Zwane hit the post for the second time late in the second half asa typical South African move.
“They bamboozled the opponents, ripped them open with some fantastic one-two movements; that is typical South African football – dazzling and nice to watch.”
Baxter was reluctant to single out any individual for praise, saying it was an all round performance by the 11 players and the substitutes.
“What really surprised me was the quality of performance, and of course the fantastic result. I am delighted with this win, it is a satisfactory result.
“The good thing with such wins is they give hope for the future and we should build something special from here on. This can be a catalyst for great things to come,” concluded Baxter, who is now plotting for the downfall of Cape Verde in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.