Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has congratulated Bafana Bafana for qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that will be played in Egypt in June and July.
According to the official SAFA website, South Africa registered a hard-fought 2-1 victory against a stubborn Libya on Sunday in Sfax, Tunisia.
Percy Tau’s brace secured the win for the national side, who finished the qualifiers unbeaten in six matches - and conceded only two goals.
Speaking to the media after watching the match on the big screen at the Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton - where he was joined by the Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa Thokozile Xasa, injured Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and fans - Jordaan hailed Bafana Bafana for their strong heart and mental attitude.
This is what he had to say:
It’s a reality that Bafana Bafana have qualified, and they did so in a way that instill confidence because the match was played in a hostile environment. The clash took place in Sfax, which is a city that is on the border of Libya – you just cross from Libya into Tunisia and the first city you come across is Sfax, so it was easy for their fans to get from the border into the stadium. And you saw the difficult circumstances, which required not only the football ability of our team but also a strong heart and mental strength and I think that’s what the team demonstrated. I am very happy that we have a Bafana Bafana with a strong heart and a strong mind again. Percy Tau is our hero – he promised two goals before he left for Tunisia and he delivered, so we are very happy.
This was an important victory because you have to be part of the 24 team on the continent that will be at the tournament so that we can stand a chance to be in the top eight out of the 24, because if in June we agree that the World Cup in 2022 will be 48 teams, it means that Africa will have nine or ten teams, and therefore if we are in the top eight we will be topping the group for the World Cup qualification rounds. So, it was important to qualify for that reason. We are in there now, so we must work hard to get into the top eight or nine, and then look at qualification for the World Cup, and we have to qualify for that World Cup. That will be the ultimate dream of Vision of 2022 – we have achieved everything: The U17 girls qualified for the World Cup in 2018, the U20 boys qualified for the World Cup in 2019, Banyana Banyana qualified for the World Cup in 2019, now Bafana Bafana have qualified for the AFCON. It is just the World Cup for the Senior Men that is left.
From a strategic point of view, for any country it must be important to qualify for such tournaments, but for the targets of AFCON we need the coach to come back and give us the evaluation of the entire AFCON qualification. You must know that in our group we are the only team that is unbeaten – and when I told you this, you responded by telling me about realism. It is realistic that from the beginning to the end of these AFCON qualifiers, the only unbeaten team in the group is South Africa – that is a fact and a reality. So, when he (Stuart Baxter) comes back, we have to look at why when it comes to Seychelles we score six goals and cannot score a single goal in the return match – that talks to consistency.
The AFCON tournament is three matches in the group and then the knockout stage, therefore you have one chance, and there is no second chance. We have to talk about that once we have received the report from the coach – but for now we want to say congratulations to the coach and the entire team. We have to prepare for the AFCON in June, but we are also busy with the SA U23 team, who will play a return match against Angola – they have done very well in the first leg. There are many players there that will be wearing the Bafana Bafana jersey soon. I was impressed with the goalkeepers, which shows that we have a broad base of good talented players and it is that that Vision 2022 wanted to deliver to this country. Gone are the days when one player is injured we worried and felt that the team is weakened – that is no longer the case. In Tunisia, Keagan Dolly didn’t play, Bongani Zungu didn’t play and many others, but the team was strong.
2019 is going to be a very exciting year for our national teams – Banyana Banyana to their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup, Amajita (U-20) to the FIFA Men’s U20 World Cup for the second time in a row, Bafana Bafana have qualified for AFCON and we now wait for the U-23 to qualify for the Olympics in 2020, and after the display we saw against Angola in the first leg away, we are confident they have what it takes to book their ticket to Tokyo. And don’t forget that just late last year the U-17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana) was in Uruguay for their second FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. This is indeed a great period for the South African Football Association and we are very proud of our achievements.
Bafana Bafana’s victory means South Africa will be one of five teams from the COSAFA region that have qualified for Egypt 2019 AFCON – and that is a huge achievement. Also qualified from COSAFA are Angola, Madagascar, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
So, this was a massive job done by head coach Stuart Baxter and his team – we should never underestimate that.
Once again congratulations to the team for a job well done. We are proud of their performance in difficult conditions far away from home.