Hugo Bruce, South African coach, says he will approach the semi-final match against Nigeria differently from Bafana Bafana’s style in their quarter-final game against Cape Verde on Saturday.
Recall goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the hero as South Africa beat Cape Verde 5-3 on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes to advance to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.
After an impressive four penalty saves by Williams, Bafana Bafana secured their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000 where they will meet Nigeria.
Bruce told newsmen at a post-match conference that the game against Nigeria would be an entirely different ‘kettle of fish’.
“The semi-final match will be different against Nigeria, which has good players like (Ademola) Lookman.
“We will not lose focus. The players will be in good condition, so we need to rest and recover to start our preparation,” he said.
He noted that the pressure of qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time in AFCON made the game tougher, adding that winning the game by penalty shootout wasn’t a fluke.
“When we got to the penalty shootout, it was a special thing for the players, because during training they were scoring them.
“When we have a goalkeeper who stops four penalty kicks, this is not luck but a lot of hard work.
“There was a lot of pressure in the match. Everyone wanted to qualify.
“This match was unlike the previous ones. We did not show the same performance as we had in previous matches,” he said.
He also noted that not many people in South Africa believed in the team, saying that he was proud of what his boys had achieved so far.
“In spite of all the doubts, we believed in it, and the players believed in themselves as well.
“Reaching the semi-finals is in itself a good thing for South African football,” Bruce said.
AFCON 2023: The return of Nigeria, South Africa rivalry
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana renewed their football rivalry with Nigeria’s Super Eagles in the semi-final with their win over Cape Verde.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports the Semi Final clash between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana will take place on February 7 at Stade De Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire, at 6.00 p.m. Nigerian time.
Nigeria and South Africa have met 15 times in competitive football since 1992.
The Super Eagles have won eight of such encounters, while the Bafana Bafana won two, with both teams drawing on five occasions.
The Bafana Bafana secured their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000.
AFCON 2023: Semi-finalists set for fierce battle
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) competition has entered the semi-final stage with four teams set for what analysts believe will be a fierce battle for slots in the final.
On Saturday, hosts Cote d’Ivoire came from a goal down to throw out Mali while South Africa eliminated the stubborn Cape Verde 5-3 on penalties.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria became the first country to book a spot in the semi-finals with a composed 1-0 victory over the hard fighting Angolans, while DR Congo came from behind to beat Guinea 3-1.
Nigeria, who are now the highest ranked team in the tournament, will lock horns with perennial foe, Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Wednesday at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake by 6pm (Nigerian time).
It will be hosts Cote d’Ivoire against DR Congo at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan in the second semi-final fixture by 9pm (Nigerian time).
AFCON 2023 Semi-finals
Wednesday (Feb. 7)
1: Nigeria vs South Africa (Stade de la Paix, Bouake, 6 pm)
2: Cote d’Ivoire vs DR Congo (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 9 pm)
AFCON 2023 third place play-off
Saturday (Feb. 10)
Loser semi-final 1 vs Loser semi-final 2 (Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan, 9 pm)
AFCON 2023 Final
Sunday (Feb. 11)
Winner semi-final 1 vs Winner semi-final 2 (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 9 pm)
TNG reports the AFCON 2023, which began on January 13 in Cote d’Ivoire will end on February 11.