Tuesday Sep 05, 2017. 12:00
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter says he is not thinking about a points target in his side’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Bafana Bafana are placed third in Group E with four points, with Burkina Faso (five), Senegal (four) and Cape Verde (three) all very much in the running in what is easily the most tightly-contested pool in the African preliminaries.
South Africa suffered a 2-1 loss to Cape Verde in Praia on Saturday night and they will be looking for revenge this evening when they host the Islanders in the return match in Durban.
"I've got no idea to be honest with you [of how many points are needed]. Football is so strange and you can do your mathematical estimation and then you don't need that, and you do need that and then you don't and then you do. You drive yourselves a little bit crazy," Baxter told the media on Monday evening.
"I'm not one of those coaches that starts working out before the fact. I'm too experienced to start taking things for granted or saying 'that'll never happen and this is do or die, this is the end of the road and if we get three points we are certainly through'.
"All of that just teaches you to make sure to take each challenge as it comes. So I don't count the points in advance because that team would need to get three points there and you don't get the three points but you go away from home and beat the team that is the favourites easily."
The manager explained that getting the players ‘on the same page’ and fighting anxiety is his focus ahead of the second match against the Blue Sharks.
"The most difficult thing for me is continuity and to make sure that everybody is on the same page," he said.
"The fact that we haven't qualified for a very long time brings the element of anxiety, because on the one hand the squad is desperate to give the supporters what they want, hoping they don't fail.
“On the other hand, there's this prize that is the World Cup and they are desperately trying to get there."
The South Africa v Cape Verde match will kick-off at 19h30 CAT and this website will carry live coverage of the qualifier.