Baxter sees progress despite Bafana World Cup failure

Stuart Baxter Pius Utomi Ekpei, Getty Images

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter believes his side are progressing despite their failure to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Bafana Bafana's hopes of making the global finals were ended on Friday when they lost 2-0 at home to Senegal, but they put in a spirited display and were it not for some wasteful finishing, might have got more from the game.

Baxter says he wants to continue to lead the team towards the 2019 African Nations Cup in Cameroon.

"My mandate was never about qualifying for the World Cup, but I want to see that we are making progress," he said at the post-match press conference. "I've seen some of the performances and I see that we are making progress, but we need to move forward more quickly.

"We need to have the backing of everybody and SAFA need to be sharper, and that's the only way we will get better," Baxter said without expanding on the point.

"You see the team that are going to Russia, are they so much better than us?" he asked. "I don't think so, maybe I am blue-eyed, but I think with the right sort of application from the players and the co-operation of everybody in South Africa, we can keep moving forward."

Baxter felt his side deserved more from the clash with Senegal, especially after a strong first half display.

"We dragged ourselves back into contention after two poor performances against Cape Verde, and the performance in the first half [on Friday], it was amazing we could go in 2-0 down.

"I thought we were better than them in everything, apart from we didn't have one world-class act who could conjure something from nothing.

"We had to work for everything and we missed our chances, and then...I am not sure about their second goal, was it a free kick against Clayton [Daniels]? I don't know.

"In the second half we've got to push and go for it, and they can sit, and I still thought that we created more than they did," Baxter concluded. "But all that talk doesn't mean anything because they beat us 2-0 and they are going to Russia."

Bafana enjoyed the lion's share of possession, but especially in the second period did little with it.

"The fact that we had more possession doesn't impress me at all; the possession needs to be translated into strikes on goal. People talk about parking the bus, but the modern game is about everybody knowing how to defend and breaking quickly.

"We had a lot of possession, but we didn't finish. We had one against the crossbar, the ball was skidding across the goal-line and people not getting a foot on it. These are big chances that you need to tuck away.

"The boys' performance against a top class team tonight...we are not far away, but we need to convert our chances."

Senegal's win puts them on 11 points atop Group D, with Burkina Faso and Senegal on six points, and Bafana on four.