By Dr Andile Sokani
While the loss may have halted Bafana Bafana march to the final, it has not dimmed the collective smile that adorns the faces of South Africans nationwide. This tournament has been a beacon of hope and progress for our national team, instilling a renewed belief in their capabilities.
The journey through AFCON 2023 has been nothing short of transformative for Bafana Bafana. The experience gained by the players, both on and off the pitch, is valuable.
From facing formidable opponents to navigating the pressures of international competition, each match has provided valuable teamwork, resilience, and sportsmanship lessons.
For the starting eleven, as well as those who didn't see as much game time, each moment has been an opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute to the team's collective effort. The bonds forged in training sessions and team meetings have fostered a sense of unity and camaraderie among the players.
To those players who may have felt disheartened by limited playing time, I urge them to embrace the bigger picture. Their mere presence in the squad signifies a recognition of their talent and potential to serve their nation.
Every training session, every team meeting, and every matchday experience is a stepping stone towards their personal and collective development.
As we approach the third-place playoff, Bafana must maintain their fighting spirit and determination. They should know that the entire country stands firmly behind them, cheering them on with unwavering support. Regardless of the outcome, their efforts have already made us proud, and they should hold their heads high as they take to the field once more.
Additionally, let us extend our heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to those players who sustained injuries during the tournament. Their contributions, both on and off the pitch, have been instrumental to the team's success thus far, and we eagerly await their return to full fitness.
I extend my sincerest congratulations to Bafana Bafana and the entire tactical team for their exemplary performance throughout AFCON 2023. Your dedication, resilience, and passion for the game have brought joy to millions and rekindled the flame of hope for South African football. Well done, Bafana Bafana. The nation salutes you.
* Dr Andile Sokani is a Deputy Director at the School of Government.
** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.