Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has warned against underestimating Cape Verde, emphasising the mammoth task his team are facing in their quarterfinal clash.
On Saturday, South Africa will cross swords with the Atlantic island nation for a place in the semis of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Kick-off at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro is at 10pm (SA time).
The South Africans have had an impressive run at the 34th Afcon edition in Ivory Coast, the highlight thereof being the elimination of Africa’s No1-ranked country, Morocco.
Bafana sent the Atlas Lions packing by walloping them 2-0 in the round of last-16 on Tuesday. That feat has also sent a strong message that the South Africans are in the 2023 Afcon to win it.
Broos said his side were preparing for Cape Verde with keenness, while emphasising the danger of underestimating their opponents.
“I think we will be ready for the game tomorrow (Saturday); we’ll not underestimate Cape Verde,” Broos said during a press conference at Charles Konana Banny Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Discipline is Verde’s strong point
“They are not the same team as Morocco with high quality players from top teams in Europe. But what I saw from the team (Cape Verde), I think we don’t have to underestimate them.
“They are a team on and off the pitch; their players are very disciplined and perform their roles very well, which makes it difficult for any team.
“So, that means tomorrow, if we are to achieve our best level and want to be in the semi-finals, we must start by trying to beat Cape Verde.
“We are confident going into the game, but we know that it will be tough, and it will be as tough as the game against Morocco.”
Broos has every reason not to undermine his next opponent since Cape Verde has proved to be among the most enterprising teams in the tournament. The islanders topped Group B ahead of the now-eliminated top guns, Ghana and Egypt. Mozambique was the fourth team in the group, and they too have gone home.
Moreover, head-to-head record with Cape Verde does not point to SA’s domination. The two sides have met five teams, with each winning twice by the same scoreline – 2-1. Bafana won the first two encounters in 2004 and 2005, both Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
Cape Verde vouched for their steady growth on the continent by beating Bafana in their last two encounters. Both matches in September 2017 were World Cup qualifiers. The middle match between the two was a goalless draw in the 2013 Afcon group stages.
Little separates the two
In addition, little separates the two countries in terms of Fifa rankings, with SA ranked No. 66 (12th in Africa) and Cape Verde 73th (14th in Africa).
Cape Verde does not have a professional set-up like the PSL in South Africa. However, the island nation enjoys a vast talent pool groomed mostly in Europe, where some of the players in the team were born.
An intense encounter is clearly in the offing in Yamoussoukro, the basilica city 233km northwest of Abidjan.