South Africa coach Hugo Broos said his team’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign must already be considered a success after they reached the last four on Saturday, but the veteran Belgian insisted “the hunger is big” to go all the way to the final.
Bafana Bafana beat Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties in the last eight after a goalless 120 minutes in Ivorian capital Yamoussoukro, with goalkeeper and captain Ronwen Williams producing a remarkable four saves in the shoot-out.
“Let’s say six hours ago I was 71, now I am 75. It was a very stressful game, certainly with penalties,” admitted Broos.
South Africa are now into their first Cup of Nations semi-final since 2000 and will face much-fancied Nigeria on Wednesday.
“Today I saw and felt that my players were really nervous. There was a lot of pressure because everyone wanted to qualify for the semi-finals, and we didn’t play like in our previous matches,” admitted Broos, whose team had beaten Morocco 2-0 against the odds in the last 16.
They will again be the underdogs against Victor Osimhen’s Super Eagles in Bouake, leaving Broos to claim his side “have nothing to lose”.
“It is maybe bizarre for me to say that but for us our AFCON has already been a success. We are in the semi-finals. Nobody thought we would do that when we left South Africa to come here.
“There will be less pressure on us, I am certain of that. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to play the final, certainly not.”
Broos has revived the fortunes of South Africa, having taken over following their failure to qualify for the last Cup of Nations two years ago.
While many of Africa’s leading national sides lean heavily on players who belong to leading European clubs, Broos’s squad is almost entirely comprised of stars from the South African league.
His starting line-up against Cape Verde, which was unchanged for a fourth successive game, featured eight players from the country’s dominant club Mamelodi Sundowns.