Bafana Bafana have done themselves a world of good for booking themselves a berth in the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Bafana will face arch-rivals Nigeria on Wednesday with their eye firmly set on the final on Sunday. Even if they hit the speed bump against the Super Eagles, the South Africans will remain in Ivory Coast to play in the third-place playoff.
Bafana’s brave run in Afcon is paying off for the players. Already, by reaching the semi-finals Bafana are guaranteed a cool R47-million pay cheque. The grand prize will give the players R131-million, or R75-million for the second prize.
“CAF has made significant progress over the past two years in increasing the prize money of the Afcon and all its other major competitions,” said CAF president Patrice Motsepe.
“We have increased the Afcon prize money to $7-million (R131-million) for the winners, which is a 40% increase from the previous Afcon. I am confident that a portion of the prize money will contribute to developing football and also benefit all the football stakeholders, as well as assist our member associations with their administrations,” Motsepe added.
Against all odds
SA coach Hugo Broos’ young guns arrived at the last-four stage of the competition against all odds, especially after losing their opening match 2-0 against Mali. The team’s performance in the match drew harsh criticism at home, while many just condemned them to early departure in the group stages.
But Bafana regrouped and came back strongly against neighbours Namibia, whom they clobbered 4-0 in the second match. This meant that they needed to avoid a defeat against Tunisia to advance to the last-16. The match ended 0-0.
In their first knockout match, Bafana eased past the tournament favourite by clobbering them by 2-0.
In the quarterfinals, the 1996 champions needed the heroics of captain fantastic Ronwen Williams to chisel another victory against Cape Verde via penalty kicks. The Mamelodi Sundowns shot-stopper was the hero when he saved four spot-kicks, sending Mzansi into a frenzy.
The match against Nigeria will be SA’s biggest test by far in Ivory Coast. Tension is already brewing off-field, with the Nigeria High Commission in Tshwane already having issued a statement of advice to the Super Eagles’ supporters living in SA. The commission asked its compatriots to conduct themselves with caution and safety.
Titled “Advisory on safe conduct for Nigerians in South Africa before, during and after 2024 Afcon match between Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana,” the statement reads: “The attention of the Nigeria High Commission Pretoria has been drawn to potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in the country.
Alert heightens tension
“Most of the comments consist of veiled threats against Nigerians if Bafana lose to the Super Eagles, among others.
“In this regard, the High Commission hereby advises the Nigerian community to be watchful of their utterances, be mindful of where they choose to watch the match, especially in public places, and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous, or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match.”
Afcon Prize Money:
WINNERS: $7-million (R131-million)
RUNNERS-UP: $4-million (R75-million)
SEMI-FINALISTS: $2,5-million (R47-million)
QUARTERFINALISTS: $1,3-million (R24-million)
LAST 16: $800 000 (R15-million)
Head-to-Head between SA and Nigeria:
Matches – 14
Nigeria won 7
South Africa won 2