AFCON 2023: Semifinal against Nigeria will be different, says S/African coach

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.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 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.

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