Monday Oct 09, 2017. 20:00
South Africa’s 2018 World Cup qualifying fate is in their own hands, much to the relief of coach Stuart Baxter.
Bafana Bafana defeated Burkina Faso 3-1 in Johannesburg on Saturday to revive their hopes of going to Russia 2018.
They were further boosted by news of a win for Senegal away to Cape Verde later in the day, with the combination of results meaning that the back-to-back matches between Bafana and the Teranga Lions next month will be decisive.
South Africa will first host Senegal in Polokwane on November 10 in a replay of the match from last year which was annulled by FIFA, before taking on the Teranga Lions in Dakar four days later.
While Senegal need only one win or two draws from the matches to guarantee top spot, South Africa must win them both.
It’s a tall order to beat one of Africa’s top teams two times in quick succession, but Baxter is just happy that his side’s fate is in their own control.
“Senegal’s victory over Cape Verde has tilted the scale slightly in our favour and now we are still very much alive in the qualifiers,” said Baxter, as quoted by Kick-Off.
“I have been saying we have to live in the here and now, what happens in the other match is not our concern.
“We have to win the remaining matches and we are off to Russia, anything less we know we are out – because with six points each, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde can only get to nine points, while two wins for us will take us to ten points, so it is very much in our hands.”
Baxter added, “If we thought the clash against Burkina Faso was a World Cup final, the two matches against Senegal are way more than that.
“We need to continue from where we left off against the Burkinabe and if we can have the same aggression and attitude when we face Senegal, then we are very close to realising our dream.
“There’s no doubt in my mind or the players’ that it will be a difficult match but it is very much possible to get positive results, and we have to continue to believe.
“We would like to thank the fans for the support at FNB Stadium, and we are confident they will do so again in Polokwane.”