South Africa coach Stuart Baxter has warned against overconfidence ahead of his team’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria next weekend.
Baxter led Bafana Bafana to a famous 2-0 away win over the Super Eagles in June last year – it was a first competitive victory for South Africa in the rivalry between the teams. The coach hopes that the memory of the triumph in Uyo doesn’t go to his players’ heads.
“I hope it [the win in Uyo] has broken the – almost – belief that we can’t beat Nigeria. But that comes from somewhere deep down, not just from a load of words but your actions on the field,” said Baxter.
“When looking in their eyes, you’ve got to make sure that it is deep, deep down that you really believe it. So, I hope it’s broken that.”
Baxter added, “I also hope that it’s not made us feel as if we’re the kings of the world, because we’re not. We have a long, long way to go.
“But, if we play well and we produce good South African football, a lot of motivation and a lot of focus on a game-plan that will also stop them from playing, then we have a chance.
“I think, if anything, we should learn that there’s a lot of hard work behind it. If players are not prepared to do that – the word ‘sacrifice’ comes to mind – then we’ll maybe get the same sort of results that we fear getting, because we’ve had too many of them [in the recent past].
“So, again, we learn from every event and I hope that we’ve learnt enough so that we don’t reproduce what we don’t want to see.”