Cape Town - Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo says that after their shock 1-0 victory over Egypt, his side would have to perform the same heroics in their quarter-final clash against Nigeria.
It has been quite a journey playing for Bafana Bafana. A team historically known for winning the coveted continental championship in 1996, and whose legacy we continue to try as best we can to replicate.
This year’s continental tournament has been tough and making it into the last 16 was a goal many did not expect us to reach. We knew coming into the game with Egypt that we had to perform heroics.
We had to prove to everyone but more importantly to our nation and ourselves, that we can deliver. Our preparation for that game was intense, we knew we had to give it everything we had and that paid off.
We’ve now made it into the AFCON quarter-finals for the 6th time in our history, this gives us an opportunity to really chase our dream to win the tournament.
Our next game is against our biggest rival, Nigeria. We know playing them will be tough but we have a clear understanding of our mission, and we’ll give it our all once again. This is an opportunity for us to regain trust from the fans, to truly discover our identity and have confidence in our capabilities.
As captain, I’m confident in the team and what we can achieve.
What I have learned so far in my career is that support is everything. From the team we work with on a day-to-day basis, to our supporters at home, sponsors like Energade who walk this road with us in good and bad times - that’s what keeps us going, this is who we’re playing for.
There’s a lot of pressure on us to perform well, therefore it is our intention to do our best. It is no longer just about participating but about earning our place on the greatest stage in Africa.
Whatever the outcome, this is only the beginning for us. I believe that this is a new era and an opportunity to do well and participate more in global football competitions. The hope for this tournament is to bring back the confidence South Africans once had in us when the team won the tournament in 1996.
We want to keep the nation’s faith in Bafana Bafana alive, for young boys to learn from our journey and see how important it is to not give up. To pursue their dreams no matter the failures, criticism and challenges. I hope our journey inspires South African heroics.