Broos rejoices over team’s group stage success at AFCON

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is happy that his team has achieved their first goal of successfully negotiating the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, despite being drawn into a tough group.

The Belgian mentor says their three group stage matches were all very different and challenging for the players, who showed that they have progressed over the last two years.

Bafana Bafana will play the top-ranked nation on the continent, Morocco, in the Round of 16 next Tuesday evening.

After an inspiring performance against Namibia on Sunday, which saw them win 4-NIL, Bafana Bafana weren’t as offensive against Tunisia.

The South Africans looked content to wait for Tunisia to come at them, with the Carthage Eagles’ most attacks targeting the right flank, and despite the North Africans’ threats on a number of occasions, the match ended in a goalless draw.

Broos says qualifying for the knockout stage demonstrates there are quality players in the team who have progressed over the last two years.

“Our first goal was to pass the group stage, even though we were not in an easy group with Tunisia or Mali. Okay, we did it, and the three games were very different, so that means we progressed a lot. There is quality; we have to believe that, and we need this kind of tournament to improve.”

While Bafana Bafana had played Namibia on Sunday, Tunisia and Mali had clashed a day earlier, which meant they had a day more to recuperate for last night’s match.

Broos and midfielder Themba Zwane, who won his second Man of the Match award of the tournament, say that is why they decided to play the way they did.

“First, we knew as a team it was going to be difficult and physical because we watched our game, so we had to fight as a team, and that’s what we did. At the same time, we wanted to avoid unnecessary yellow cards and try to be calm but fight.”

Bafana coach says, “We tried to play very compactly because we took into account that we had a day less recovery than our opponents, so we had to look at when and how we played, and that’s why we chose that tactic, and I think it was the right one.”

Bafana Bafana know they will also have to get out of their shell and be offensive to have a chance against the number one-ranked Morocco on Tuesday.

Broos says, “Even if he might be blamed for selecting a predominantly locally-based squad if they lose to Morocco next week, the team needs exposure at this level to improve.”

There will be moments when we will say there are 19 players in South Africa’s national team who play locally, but we are in the round of 16, then we lose to Morocco next week, and some will say that because there are 19 players who are playing locally, this is what the team needs.

Bafana Bafana will travel to San Pedro for Tuesday’s knockout stage match against Morocco, which kicks off at 10 o’clock South African time on Tuesday evening.