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Baxter defends Bafana character

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has praised the mentality of his side ahead of their AFCON opener against Ivory Coast on Monday.

Bafana have in the past been accused of showing a lack of heart and fight, but Baxter says that won't be the case this time around.

“I think there may have been times before when South African national teams could be accused of not achieving what their potential deserved on the field, because of not having the right focus,” said Baxter.

“But win, lose or draw, that will not be the case with this group of players. This group have a very small ego, and a very great South African heart – they enjoy playing for their country.

“And I’m sure that they are going to leave everything out there in every game.”

And Baxter wants his side to show no fear against the Ivorians.

“We’re playing against the best teams on the continent, which we could say is a heavy group, but we feel the way to not be intimidated is to pay them the respect that they deserve but not fear them,” he added.

“We have to be better than they think, quicker than they expect and better organised than they anticipate. If we can do that, then I think they will then have to rethink their game plan.

“That’s the only way you can do it, you can’t sit back and hope they going to make a few mistakes, because once their machine is rolling then it’s difficult to stop them.

“So, we’ve got to – yes, respect what they do, but also make sure they have to deal with something that we can do.”