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Booth urges SAFA to keep current Bafana crop intact

Matthew Booth believes it is imperative that SAFA and the backroom staff do everything in their power to keep the current crop of Bafana Bafana players together.

Bafana exceeded expectations by seeing off the Egyptians in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations in impressive fashion. And Booth thought that on the whole there were definitely more positives to take out of the tournament than negatives.

"Well look it was like a rollercoaster I think from a performance point of view," Booth told KickOff.

"There are certain positives from the group games. I think the fact that Baxter changed his midfield on all three occasions but they still seemed to gel pretty well. I think up front we lacked a bit of energy, and then leading up to the Egypt game I suspected we were going to come to the party and surprise Egypt.

"We have this funny ability to when we have our backs against the wall and nobody gives us a chance. When we play against the favourites we have this ability to come to the party. I think the Egypt game is one of the best games I have seen Bafana play in probably the last decade. I think it surpassed the performance away in Nigeria in the qualifiers. I think that would be the highlight of the tournament for me.

"It was always going to be difficult to get that same energy against Nigeria, to try and pick the team up again. But having said that I think we did well to equalise and get back into the game and of course in tournaments of this magnitude and stage, sometimes small mistakes or in this case a big mistake determines the game.

"And again there's a lesson to be learned that you can't really take your foot off the accelerator or lose concentration for one second, otherwise you will get punished, especially in the knockout rounds.

"Against Nigeria we didn't have the same energy that we had against Egypt. You know we've set a standard for ourselves now against Egypt, we know what we are capable of."

The former Mamelodi Sundowns star then leapt to the defence of overseas-based strikers Lebo Mothiba and Lars Veldwijk, both of whom failed to register a single goal in the continental showpiece.

"Veldwijk didn't get enough game time I feel. He showed some nice touches with Percy Tau, combination play with Tau against Namibia. But I felt you can't really have an opinion on the guy when he comes on in the last ten to fifteen minutes. We are looking for an equaliser against Nigeria, and all the balls are being played high to him you know," Booth explains.

"You can't judge a guy from that small amount of play from the game scenario. It was a false situation. I would like to see him play a full game and then decide on him.

"For Mothiba he had an outstanding game against Egypt, he held the ball up nicely. I don't think we had enough of the ball to get it in to him against Nigeria. In the group games I felt that he didn't have enough support from the wide players. Our attacking players lacked a bit of energy apart from the second half of the Namibia game. South Africans, we don't have a lot of patience for tall number nines, he's actually got good feet and he's a good passer of the ball."

Finally, Booth has urged the South African football bosses to keep the current side in tact so as to build on the platform they have laid at AFCON.

"Ja look as footballers we love consistency you know, in a build-up to a game we like to do the same things to prepare our minds for the game. If things change it is disturbing for players. Likewise if you keep changing the squad basically you will have to start all over again.

"So my advice is to keep this team going for as long as possible. Obviously there would be minor changes perhaps, over the next couple of years. But certainly from a squad point of view and the team I would keep it."