Bafana coach Baxter defends Mphahlele decision

South Africa will open their Group D campaign against the Ivory Coast on June 24 in Cairo, but first flew to Dubai yesterday, where they will play Ghana in a friendly on Saturday.

The Bafana head coach added that he did not think his players would feel intimidated in the face of the star names that are likely to take the field for the Elephants.

“In practice yesterday, Lebo Mothiba scored four goals,” said Baxter this weekend, after Bafana played an internal training match on Saturday at Tuks.

READ: Bafana coach explains Erasmus’ omission from Afcon squad

“All the players have seen that he is very difficult to handle, and is a threat to anyone. If we can get Percy Tau on the ball in the right areas, he is a threat, Tembinkosi Lorch has been very good on this camp and so has Themba Zwane. So we have very good support players in our offensive game so I am happy if we can have good possession that we can be rapid in our transitions.

“If you look at our opponents (the Ivory Coast), I was reading an article this morning that said (Nicolas) Pepe was going to Bayern Munich for £70 million and Wilfried Zaha was going to Man Utd for £35 million, that is over £100 million worth of talent, and if we think we are going to have an easy day, that is not going to happen. But I don’t think the players will be intimidated, we will respect our opponents but will do everything we can to have a good performance.”

Baxter also explained his decision to take striker Lars Weldwijk to Egypt, The Netherlands-based striker making it ahead of Cape Town City’s Kermit Erasmus.

“We had a finishing drill today, and Lars was so clinical,” said the Bafana coach.

“He has not scored a lot of goals in The Netherlands for no reason. In the game today he took the ball on his chest and knocked it wide, we crossed the ball in and he put it in the net. Using him properly, in those situations, he can finish. He is not as easy on the eye as Tau or Lebo, but not being easy on the eye certainly doesn’t make you a bad finisher.”

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