Bafana eyeing Afcon 2025, feeling ‘capable of beating anyone’

South Africa's players celebrate Teboho Mokoena’s goal during their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Nigeria earlier this week

South Africa's players celebrate Teboho Mokoena’s goal during their Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Nigeria earlier this week. Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP

Published Feb 9, 2024


The wave of optimism flowing over Bafana Bafana has given the players ample reason to believe they can win the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana endured roller-coaster preparations for the current Afcon in Ivory Coast, having had lukewarm results in their friendly matches, and drawing matches they were tipped to win.

However, they gave their best at the tournament itself, making it all the way to the semi-finals before going down 4-2 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out against arch-rivals Nigeria.

The match had ended 1-1 after regulation and extra time, but Bafana deserved the win ahead of the Super Eagles after creating the most scoring opportunities.

A win for the South Africans would have seen them beat Nigeria for the first time in four Afcon meetings, and reach the final for the first time in 26 years. But it wasn’t to be.

Nonetheless, Bafana were lauded for getting this far by their supporters, having brought the nation together after initial doubts they’d even make it out of the group stage.

“People weren’t giving us chances to get far in this tournament. But we’ve brought back the love of football in our country,” midfielder Sphephelo Sithole told the Safa media department in the aftermath.

“We’ve shown that we are capable of beating anyone in this tournament, and we are going to come with a strong mentality that could help us win the next Afcon.”

The next Afcon will be staged in Morocco next year. This is a tournament that Bafana will head into licking their lips after beating the upcoming hosts in the last 16 in Ivory Coast.

“I think we’ve done well as a team, especially yesterday (on Wednesday),” said Sithole, who’s been one of the stand-out players for Bafana at the Afcon.

“I think we need to build on the momentum that we’ve shown, so that in the future, we can probably give our supporters what they deserve (the Afcon title).”

The support that Bafana have garnered over the past few weeks is really encouraging for the team after their shortcomings in recent months.

Bafana played most of their friendly matches in front of empty seats prior to the Afcon, something that was embarrassing for a country that prides itself on being a footballing nation.

Bafana captain Ronwen Williams was one of the players that spoke out about the lack of support, urging the fans to rally behind the team at stadiums.

So, after seeing and feeling what the positivity and backing from the 12th man can do for the team, Williams says they’ll continue to grind out results and make the supporters proud.

“We felt it, we felt the support. Our social media platforms have been going crazy in the last few weeks, and we’ve seen every message of support,” Williams said.

“This is what I’ve been crying for, for the last year or so: the public to get behind the team. But in saying that, it’s all about results.

“We got the results, and hopefully this can be the relationship we can build as a country, to know that it’s possible, and we need everyone (to support the team).”

Sure, Bafana’s ultimate dream is to win the next Afcon. But they want to leave Ivory Coast with something to show for their exploits by winning the bronze medal.

And that’s why they’ll again need the support of their fans when they face DR Congo in the third-place play-off in Abidjan tomorrow night (10pm kick-off).


IOL Sport

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