Bafana coach Broos focused on World Cup qualifiers ahead of Afcon bronze medal showdown
Bafana Bafana still have the serious matter of the bronze medal match against DR Congo at the Stade Félix-Houphouët-Boigny on Saturday (10pm SA time), but coach Hugo Broos is already thinking about the Fifa World Cup qualifiers in June.
Bafana’s next World Cup qualifier is against Nigeria away from home in June where Broos, who is not a fan of bronze medal matches at major tournaments, will be looking to get their campaign back on track after their defeat to Rwanda.
South Africa kicked off their World Cup qualifiers with a win over Benin in Durban last year.
Speaking ahead of the clash against DR Congo, Broos said Bafana’s impressive performances at Afcon in the Ivory Coast will help them during the World Cup qualifiers.
“When there is a draw for Afcon or the World Cup and you see Nigeria in your group, it is normal that this will be the team to beat. But after Wednesday’s Afcon semifinal defeat to them on penalties, we know that we can beat them,” he said.
“This Afcon has made us stronger. I have said already in the past that South Africa needs friendly games against the big teams. That’s how you are going to learn something. These six games we have played here at this level have helped us a lot.
“They will make our chances to qualify for the World Cup bigger, which is where we have to focus.
“We have to focus on being at the World Cup, because after 24 years we had a semifinal at Afcon.
“The next focus must be qualifying for the World Cup in 2026. It is not going to be easy, I have already spoken about Nigeria but there is also Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho in our group.
“This Afcon has shown us that these ‘little’ countries have made a lot of progress. Some big countries were out of this tournament quickly. Our World Cup qualifying group is not easy but it can give us much confidence that we can be first in our group following up on this Afcon.”
Ahead of their third-place play-off against DR Congo, Bafana defender Siyanda Xulu said they will have to be professional in their approach despite their semifinal disappointment.
“It is a difficult situation for both teams because we came from disappointment in the semifinal, we both wanted to reach the final. It is going to rely on whoever has the mental strength to face the game and I think we are capable of that.
“The disappointment of the semifinal has passed and we are all focused on this game, this is something that we have to face tomorrow.”
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