Tough to draw positives, admits Baxter after last-gasp CAN loss - GulfToday

Tough to draw positives, admits Baxter after last-gasp CAN loss


South Africa coach Stuart Baxter in action during his side’s CAN quarter-final against Nigeria in Cairo on Wednesday. Reuters

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter admitted it was ‘difficult to find positives’ from Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Nigeria in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana Bafana stunned the hosts Egypt in the last 16 but were eliminated four days later in Cairo after William Troost-Ekong bundled in a late winner for three-time champions Nigeria.

“It’s difficult when you’ve lost a game in the dying minutes, it’s difficult to find positives. I’m sure in one week’s time I will find some positives, but at this moment I’m finding it very difficult,” said Baxter.

“I thought in the first have we weren’t brave enough, brave enough to get on the ball in tight space, and brave enough to press higher. In the second half we tried to do that better, and we managed to get a better more mobile possession which gave Nigeria more problems, but we still couldn’t find that last strike on goal.”

“Nigeria were always dangerous, really well organised and have good players, and because we didn’t defend as well as we could and we tried to press higher, we left some spaces down the flanks where their good players could attack,” said Baxter.

“And then you make the choice as a coach: you go defensive and try to have 1-1 and go to extra time, or you try to win the game.

“This is a tournament, you get nothing for a draw. If I had suddenly gone defensive it would be admitting I didn’t think we were good enough to beat Nigeria. I think in the tournament you’ve got to take that chance.

“So we tried to win the game but we lost it in the dying minutes which is tough to take, but congratulations to Gernot (Rohr) and his team, I’m sure they’ll be one of the teams competing to lift the trophy.”

Agence France-Presse

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