Cairo — Bafana Bafana’s performance at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) has given hope for the national team’s future‚ SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan says.
SA arrived home on Saturday having been knocked out in the quarterfinals 2-1 by Nigeria on Wednesday. They had shocked hosts Egypt 1-0 in the last-16 in one of the upsets of the tournament with an inspired display.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s ultra-defensive tactics in the group stage were criticised as Bafana scraped through as the fourth-best third-placed finishers with 1-0 defeats against Ivory Coast and Morocco and a 1-0 victory over Namibia.
“We last participated in Afcon in 2015. In that Afcon in Equatorial Guinea we dropped out in the first round‚” Jordaan said in Egypt‚ where he is remaining on until after the final on Friday as he is a vice-president of the organising committee.
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“In 2017 we didn’t qualify. And now in 2019 we qualified. And so I think there was a low expectation of the performance of the team. This tournament has delivered to a great extent a team that showed they could play against the best.
“Because who we play against. We played three teams who were in the  World Cup in Russia — Nigeria‚ Morocco and Egypt. And we lost to Morocco and Nigeria in the last minute‚ with errors on our part. “The team performed extremely well.”
Jordaan said the victory against Egypt showed Bafana can compete with the best.
“The standout performance of course was against Egypt in a stadium packed with more than 70‚000 Egyptian fans‚ and against a team that came off three consecutive victories in the group stages‚” the Safa president said.
“So it was a huge match and a huge test for Bafana‚ coming from a group stage where we had three points as opposed to Egypt’s nine. “It’s probably the best performance of a Bafana team in many years. Mark Fish said he last saw such a performance in 1998.
“I think that showed us the capability and the best of what this team can deliver. And that helped us to begin to look at how we consolidate this team‚ and how we continue to build on that success."
The draw for the qualifiers for the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon will be held in Cairo on July 19‚ the day before the Egypt 2019 final.