Stuart Baxter says he is devastated and does not want to make a call on South Africa’s World Cup hopes until he has reflected better on the group standings where Bafana Bafana have dropped to last after two successive losses to the tiny Cape Verde Islands.
“At this moment I’m very disappointed and it’s difficult to see the sun coming up‚ never mind us qualifying for Russia‚” said the national team coach after the shock 2-1 loss at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night left dreams of the 2018 World Cup fast receding.
“I’ve not had‚ anywhere I have gone‚ a more disappointing feeling than I have now after a football game.”
South Africa could have been runaway leaders in the group with double success over the unfancied islanders but instead sit in the doldrums.
I think we’ve got to improve‚ obviously‚ because we’ve just come off two defeats.
“We’ve got to improve‚ even if the results go our way‚ to take that chance and‚ obviously‚ we’ll keep doing it‚” added Baxter after two wonder strikes from Gary Rodrigues delivered a potential knockout blow.
“But it is no longer in our hands and we will have to rely on other results to go our way.”
Baxter said it was difficult for him to defend the performance and said his side needed more time together “to sharpen our knives and our weapons”.
“We have to make sure we go into battle a little better equipped.
“I thought we went into both games and started well until we conceded.
“In both games we lost our composure after we conceded and‚ unfortunately‚ then we had to chase the game.
And the players have not done enough work with me to be able to shift systems efficiently. We ended up gambling a little bit.”
Baxter said the Cape Verdians had belied their lowly ranking with their performances in Praia on Friday and in Durban on Tuesday.
“But rankings are nothing‚” the Briton said.
“It is no indicator of how the game is going to go.
“In the two games against us‚ the Cape Verde looked a better team than I had analyised in their three or four games before that.
“They have had a couple of young players who have come in‚ that have been lively and that has helped them.
“They did not get out (of their own half) in the games that I watched them play but they got out now by playing the big fellow (Julio Tavares) as a target for them.
He was bundling around‚ falling over to try and get free kicks. That has helped them a lot.
“So I think they are a more difficult proposition now than they were at the beginning of the campaign. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have gotten two wins (over the Cape Verde).
“If we had defended a little bit better in two situations in the Cape Verde we could have beaten them there.
“And if we didn’t concede a goal from a free kick in the early part of the second half (in Durban) and built on that‚ after the changes we made at half-time‚ and without having to chase the game and get nervous‚ we could have won here too.
“But that’s all conjecture because we’ve just lost two games and it’s difficult for me to defend.”