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Baxter admits winning against Nigeria “would be the biggest”

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The South Africa coach believes his team is still surprising everyone, as they go as underdogs against the Super Eagles.

South Africa qualified to the knockout stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as the worst third place country.

But they surprised everyone when they defeated hosts Egypt 1-0 to advance to the Quarterfinals of the tournament.

“Winning this would be the biggest,” Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter told The Guardian.

“Without sounding egotistical I think this would represent a massive personal victory for me, partly because it’d be coming far more quickly than it should and partly because this is such a big tournament.”

“The whole country was full of optimism in ’96,” he says.

“Full of hope and belief in the future. I think the team reflected that hope.”

“When we beat Libya to qualify this time, the sports ministry wrote to me and said: ‘You’ve given the country hope’, and for me, that’s where all this negativity stems from,” he added.

“If the country is dependent on a result by the national team to give it hope, we fail.”

“We can give it hope for five minutes, but every defeat is met with such negativity because on wider level those hopes and dreams have been flattened,” he commented.

“There’s too much going wrong in the country: getting the electricity shut down every day, the water shortages, the unemployment, you name it.”

The coach concluded: “The country’s not hopeful and they’re in a mental state of depression; I think that gets reflected. They cannot accept any more negativity so one bad result is met by a tirade.”