We had a very good Afcon, says dejected Bafana coach Broos

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos was heartbroken in the manner in which his team was denied a place in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after they were defeated 4-2 by Nigeria via the lottery of penalty kicks on Wednesday night.

A 10-man Bafana, after defender Grant Kekana was red-carded, put up a brave fight and were the better side than Nigeria. But at the end, they had to bow out and will now face DR Congo for the bronze medal in the third-place play-offs on Saturday.

DR Congo were defeated by Ivory Coast in the other semi-final, and the tournament hosts are now in a tantalising final against the Super Eagles on Sunday in Abidjan.

This is one of the best performances SA has ever dished out in a major tournament, and that is why Broos, who has turned the team around, was downtrodden after the defeat.

Against Nigeria, Bafana captain Ronwen Williams could not repeat his heroic antics he displayed on Saturday, where he saved four penalties against Cape Verde. Williams’ teammates also did not bring their scoring boots on Wednesday night.

Teboho Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa missed their spot kicks, while Mihlali Mayambela and Mothobi Mvala converted from the spot.

“Football can be hard. When you see the performance of my team today and then there are penalties and you lose the game, you’re not in the final. It’s hard to accept that, because we played a very good game today.

“I think we were the best team in the first half, and we had the best chances. Nigeria didn’t have one chance – nothing. In the second half, okay, they had a few chances, but they could not score,” said Broos after their defeat.

“But then we changed something tactically, and we came back. Two minutes before the end of the 90 minutes, we had three chances again. 

“So, if we could score there, we would go to the final and not Nigeria. That happens in football. It’s a big disappointment for everyone because we feel that we played a very good game, and that we played a very good Afcon. I’m very, very proud of it. I’m proud of my players. 

“What they performed, not only today, I think you have to be proud as a coach. Yes, it’s a defeat, and we played a very bad game against Cape Verde, and we won via penalties. We played a very good game against Nigeria, and we lost on penalties.

“That is football. But again, we only have to think about the way we played this Afcon. And I think everyone knows South Africa as a good-playing team, and that is the most important thing.”

About retiring, Broos said: “I never said that I was going to stop. I am happy with my job, I get a lot of satisfaction, and I am proud to be coaching this team. The future will determine itself.”

After the two teams finished the 90 minutes tied at one goal apiece, Bafana heroically gave it their all, and Broos’ charges battled valiantly to send the game into extra time and ultimately to the tightly contested penalty shootout.

Nigeria’s William Troost-Ekong opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute after Victor Osimhen was judged to have been brought down inside the area.

SA clawed their way back in the 90th minute through Mokoena, who also beat Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali from the penalty spot. Egyptian referee Amin Omar awarded the spot kick after consulting VAR.

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