South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
Thursday Feb 28, 2019. 13:15
South Africa national team coach Stuart Baxter has described Sfax, Tunisia as “about the best” venue for their crunch 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Libya next month.
CAF have confirmed that the match will be played at the 25‚000-seater Stade Taieb Mhiri in Tunisia’s coastal city of Sfax on Sunday, March 24. Bafana Bafana must avoid defeat if they are to secure a berth at the finals in Egypt later this year.
Libya, due to continuing political instability, cannot host home matches inside their borders.
“We’ve had to back off on the scouting in general because there were rumours that it [the match] would be in Egypt‚” Baxter is quoted by the Business Day.
“We thought Sfax sounded like the logical one – 60km from Libya’s border and they can maybe get their supporters in‚ and they’d played there before.
“I’m pleased that the date is going to be the 24th [Sunday] and not the 22nd [Friday]‚ so that gives us two more days [to prepare].
“But in terms of going and doing a recce‚ we held Barney [Kujane, Bafana team manager] back.
“We’ve been doing very big‚ broad strokes [in research]. I’ve got people I know in Tunisia and I’ve asked them their opinions‚ and about the different stadiums and accessibility.
“Barney’s done a broad-stroke check on hotels. So we’ve got the big brushstrokes. Now that we’ve got the confirmation of the venue today we can narrow down on the details.”
The SA coach added, “I think the venue is as good as we can get. I mean you can suspect that there’s going to be‚ let’s say in inverted commas‚ surprises‚ no matter where we’re going to go.
“Is the grass cut short‚ is it left long‚ is it watered‚ is it not? The dressing room accessibility. Suddenly the toilets don’t work.
“And I think we’ve got to make sure that plays absolutely no role in our mindset. I don’t think it [adaptation] is one of the things we [SA] are well known for.
“But wherever we go‚ whoever we play‚ we’ve got to pitch up‚ have a steady mindset and put on a performance.”