Baxter defends choice of training venue

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South Africa coach Stuart Baxter has defended the selection of Steyn City School as a training venue ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles.

The decision to use training facilities in Midrand, close to the affluent Fourways, has raised eyebrows, especially since Bafana Bafana trained at Princess Magogo Stadium inside the township of KwaMashu ahead of their 0-0 draw with Libya.

However, Baxter has argued that the best way to prepare is to use high-quality training facilities, rather than focusing on making the national team accessible to its fans in less affluent areas.

“The surface is the best that we can get. I’ve asked them to water it so it’s fast, and I want to play a fast game against Seychelles because they may not be able to keep up with that tempo,” Baxter was quoted as saying by TimesLIVE.

“We have a failing at times that even though we can, we don’t drive the tempo, and then people can get behind the ball and we have to pick our way through them.”

On criticism due to choosing an affluent area as a training base, Baxter said: “About taking the game to the people, I haven’t really got a clue what that is.

“This is a national training before an international game. We’re not thinking about playing politics, we’re not thinking about anything else other than preparing the players for the game.

“England go and train at Arsenal, or they got to St Georges [Park, England’s training centre]. They lock themselves away and you can’t get anywhere near their team for two weeks before a game.

“So taking the game to the people? Well of course we can. We can go and train in the townships on a bad pitch, and then we can have lots of people who think we’re very clever. But then when we lose the game they won’t be very kind to us at all.”

Bafana will host Seychelles at FNB Stadium on Saturday. They will then travel to the island nation for Tuesday’s return leg.

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