South Africa’s head coach, Hugo Broos, has said his team is fully ready to face Nigeria in the semifinal of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Bafana Bafana progressed to the last four of the competition after a thrilling penalty shootout win over Cape Verde on Saturday night, after full-time and extra time ended goalless.
“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,” Broos said.
“Not many people in South Africa believed in this team, but 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.
“The semifinal match will be different against Nigeria, which has good players like Lookman. We will not lose focus. The players will be in good condition; so we need to rest and recover to start our preparation”.
After beating pre-tournament favourites, Morocco, in the Round of 16, Broos seems to have found the ingredients needed to lift the AFCON title.
The semifinal encounter will hold at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake on Wednesday at 6.00 p.m. Nigeria.
On the tension, the penalty shootout brought to him, Broos said: “Let’s say six hours ago I was 71, now I am 75. It was a very stressful game, certainly with penalties.”
South Africa is now in their first Cup of Nations semifinal since 2000.
“Today, I saw and felt that my players were nervous. There was a lot of pressure because everyone wanted to qualify for the semi-finals, and we didn’t play like that in our previous matches,” Broos admitted.
South Africa were the underdogs when they beat Morocco 2-0 against the odds in the last 16 and on Wednesday, they will be underdogs against Nigeria.
“It is maybe bizarre for me to say that but for us, our AFCON has already been a success. We are in the semifinals. Nobody thought we would do that when we left South Africa to come here.
“There will be less pressure on us, I am certain of that. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to play the final, certainly not.”