South Africa coach Stuart Baxter organises league games to be delayed

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter needs avoid defeat against Libya to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter has pulled off something of a coup by persuading the country's Premier Soccer League (PSL) to postpone several vital games next month.

Baxter wants more time to work with his players ahead of the key African Nations Cup qualifier away in Libya, where they must avoid defeat to qualify for the finals.

Relations between the South African Football Association and the PSL over the years have not always been cordial.

The PSL has agreed to postpone three games which all involve national team players so Baxter can call up players outside of the Fifa window for national games.

"I'm eternally grateful to the PSL and the clubs for being so cooperative. What is does is give me a chance to have an extra couple of sessions," he told the BBC Sport.

"We are going to get there as quickly as possible. Whatever shenanigans we might have to face, let's get that over and done with sooner rather than later.

"We'll deal with it and acclimatise. It will be a smaller group at the beginning, not the whole squad but I still think that is preferable to what we would usually get."

It means Baxter and all the home-based players can fly to Tunisia at least one week before their match against Libya, which is set for Sfax.

Libya are forced to play their 'home' game at neutral venues because of the security situation in the north African country.

They will be joined on 18 March by both the European-based contingent as well as players from Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates, who are in African Champions League action on March 16.

Sundowns will be playing at Wydad Casablanca in Morocco while Pirates will be completing their group campaign away at Horoya in Conakry, Guinea.

Players from Pirates and Sundowns that have been called up by Baxter will then head straight to the camp in Tunisia.

South Africa are two points above Libya in second place in Group E but if they lose will crash out in an embarrassing setback. Nigeria have already secured top place in the group and their berth at the finals in Egypt.

The three games that the PSL has agreed to delay are SuperSport United against Kaizer Chiefs on 16 March and the matches between Bloemfontein Celtic at home to leaders Bidvest Wits and Polokwane City play at Cape Town City a day later.

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