• Baxter: Automatic Afcon qualification would be a blessing and curse

    Stuart Baxter head coach of Bafana Bafana

    South Africa are the favourites to host next year’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon) which would see them qualify for the tournament automatically, something which coach Stuart Baxter believes is both a ‘blessing and a curse’.

    Last week Cameroon were stripped of the rights due to inadequate infrastructure and looks as though South Africa have become the favourites to step in and host Africa’s showpiece footballing event in 2019

    Reports indicate that the Confederation of African Football (Caf) have asked the South African Football Association to consider hosting the tournament and while Safa President Danny Jordaan has indicated an eagerness to step in as hosts, he has admitted that the organisation will need government to assist.

    On the football side of things, Bafana Bafana need just one point away against Libya next year to secure their place in the tournament, regardless of who the hosts are. However, by hosting the tournament Baxter’s men might not have to play that game, which is something he believes could be a curse in the long run.

    ‘I mean it’s like a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? Let’s put me in the spot as a professional coach,’ Baxter told KickOff.com.

    ‘I think a game with the knife at the throat against Libya for this group of players, in their development, would be massive.

    ‘There’s a part of me that wants to play the game anyway, but AFCON on home soil for these group of players would be massive.

    ‘Can we get both? I hope so. I hope that no matter what the decision is, we get to play Libya.

    ‘In terms of me preparing, I have to forget that I’ve heard that and keep on trying to get the players together. We need to keep doing the stuff we are doing to prepare for Libya. In my world, we are playing Libya and that’s it.

    ‘Obviously the sooner we get an indication the better. If we get that shout early, and we know what it is, then that will be better.’

    Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

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