Consistent Bafana Bafana have right elements to qualify for World Cup, says Lucas Radebe

Lucas Radebe said no one had foreseen that Bafana Bafana would reach the Afcon semi-finals. Photo: AFP

Lucas Radebe said no one had foreseen that Bafana Bafana would reach the Afcon semi-finals. Photo: AFP

Published May 24, 2024


Lucas Radebe says Bafana Bafana are ready to go to the 2026 Fifa World Cup.

Radebe, a former Bafana Bafana captain who was part of the only South African team to win the Africa Cup of Nations, was hugely impressed by coach Hugo Broos and his unfancied Bafana team at the Afcon in Ivory Coast earlier this year.

Against all expectations, Bafana finished as bronze medal winners, and the team were accorded a hero’s welcome at OR Tambo International Airport on their return.

Radebe said no one had foreseen that the team would reach the semi-finals.

Bafana were written off as no-hopers after key players like striker Lyle Foster (Burnley FC) and defender Siyabonga Ngezana, who plays for Romanian Liga 1 club FCSB, were unable to play in Ivory Coast.

“It is great that Bafana Bafana did well, and for me, that was fantastic,” said Radebe.

“At Afcon, I have seen a lot of improvement in Bafana Bafana’s performance. For me, it was amazing.

“I think not everybody thought they would reach that level, but I saw the level of commitment. That was something that was missing – it was one of the things we missed in the past.

“I saw the consistency, something that is very important. It shows we have the right person (Broos) driving that bus (Bafana Bafana).

“These are all the elements we always wanted. It is important that we can have everyone pushing in the same direction – the players, the manager and the administrators.

“If we can achieve that, greatness will come back again.”

Bafana are preparing for World Cup qualifiers against four-time Afcon champs Nigeria and neighbours Zimbabwe next month.

Radebe said matches against these opponents are “grudge games” because these teams have generally fared well against South Africa in the past.

“The most important thing going forward is the stability of the team. Having that in the ranks ensures that the level of success will be on the increase,” the former Leeds United legend said.

“Yes, I know are playing grudge games, especially in Nigeria.

“With our players, and knowing what to expect, I have confidence in this team.

“With the manager that we have in Hugo Broos and our 12th man, now numbering many thousand after Afcon, I don’t see Bafana Bafana slipping up on this qualifying campaign.

“This squad is confident and ready to take the field against these two countries. We are ready to take on the world.”

On Monday, Bafana Bafana will name their 23-man squad to face Nigeria and Zimbabwe next month.

The announcement will take place at the SABC television studios in Auckland Park.

Meanwhile, Nigeria coach Finidi George has described the coming fixtures against South Africa and Benin as “must-win” games.

George said the Super Eagles must win these two matches to stay on course for a World Cup ticket.

“These are must-win games for us to be comfortable in our group. I believe we will win both games,” said George, who won the 1994 Afcon as a player.