South Africa have no egos and plenty of heart – Stuart Baxter
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter insists his side are a match for anyone ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations opener against Ivory Coast.
The 1996 champions have endured a poor recent run at the tournament, finishing bottom of their group in 2015 before failing to even qualify in 2017.
British coach Baxter, who returned for a second spell in charge after that disappointment, believes his side must believe they can beat every other side in the competition.
“We are playing against the best teams on the continent which we have in our group. We need not get intimidated but play with respect and at the same time give the opponents the respect they deserve but never fear them,” Baxter said in a press conference reported on the South Africa website.
“There might be times where South African national teams have been accused of not achieving what their potential deserves in the field because of not having the right focus.
“That will not be the case with this group of players. This group of players have very small ego and very great South African heart.
“We are not favourites to win the tournament but what you will not see is a South African side afraid of its opponents. This is a side that can match any side in this tournament.”
South Africa face a tough challenge to qualify from a group which also features Morocco and Namibia, while two-time champions Ivory Coast will hope to challenge for the trophy again.
The Elephants’ squad features the likes of Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha, Tottenham defender Serge Aurier and Fulham midfielder Jean Michael Seri.