Baxter - 'I think we will manage heat'
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter believes his side are well prepared for the extremely hot temperatures expected in Cairo for their AFCON opener against Ivory Coast.
Bafana have been scheduled in the first game of the day at 16h30, when the temperature is set to rise to 39 degrees Celsius, but Baxter believes his side should be well equipped, having trained at this time of the day during the past week.
Baxter said it is vital that the Bafana players are intelligent about how they use their energy.
“If it’s very hot, we have to think about the game-plan. To be pressing all over the field for 90 mins is probably not realistic,” said Baxter in the pre-match press conference.
“To start with, we have to manage hydration and nutrition before the game. We’ve been speaking a lot about that. Players have been getting weighed while working out there.
“Josh [Smith – physical trainer] has been working out there with their fluid loss and replacements, and they’ve had advice on that – that’s the first thing.
“The second thing is that we’ve been trying to train at that time now for the last few days to get used to the heat, while in Dubai on our previous camp.
“So, the way the players are at present, I think we can play not normally [but] we can handle it, unless it goes off the scale.”
But whilst the British tactician wants his side to use their energy sparingly, he does not want them 'to cut corners'.
“The problem sometimes is not physically, it’s the mentality of thinking that you need to cut corners, ‘otherwise I’ll be tired.,’” he added.
“You’ve got to put that out of your mind, you’ve got to go as long as you can. If you can’t go any further, then we have to replace that player.
“But if your attitude is right, and our hydration strategies are effective and efficient, then I think we will manage it.”