Pedro 'Bubista' Brito, the national team coach of Cape Verde, has called to mind the characteristics of the late Nelson Mandela to inspire him ahead of Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations 2023 quarter-final against South Africa.
Brito, popularly known as 'Bubista', said in a radio interview that he expects Mandela’s ethos of fairness and equality to prevail in the clash against Bafana Bafana.
The people of Cape Verde have over the years been huge admirers of Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist who served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. They named their country's biggest airport the Nelson Mandela International Airport, on Santiago Island in Cape Verde.
A Cape Verde newspaper reported that Bubista had high praise for South Africa whose leader Mandela taught to treat everyone as equal. "Bubista expressed his satisfaction at being able to face the team from South Africa," the report said.
The Mandela connection
The Cape Verde team has another Mandela connection dating back to 2013 in South Africa. Cape Verde made history when they reached the 2013 Afcon quarter-finals after a stunning 2-1 win over Angola at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Port Elizabeth
Bubista recalled that historic moment and wants to surpass that quarter-final achievement and reach the semi-finals.
“We always think about being better regardless of the opponent,” said Bubista. "We always try to do our best and achieve our goal of reaching the semi-finals.
"We will travel this path with responsibility, a spirit of unity and patriotism.
“We are one step away from that now and we are going to keep going while staying humble and respecting our opponents.
"But we believe, that is our focus and we are going to try and get there.”
Bafana have emerged as one of the form sides at Afcon 2023 after their phenomenal 2-0 win over Morocco's Atlas Lions in a Round of 16 clash. On social media, it was ranked as the 'Mother of all Upsets' at Afcon.
Bafana's coach Hugo Broos has urged his players to forget about that giant-killing act and focus on the Cape Verde clash.
Morocco win in the past
“Our win over Morocco is history,” said Broos, urging his players not to be complacent.
“Cape Verde are as determined as us to reach the semi-finals and we dare not underrate them.”
"In the beginning, we needed to grow in the tournament, and I think South Africa grew in the tournament.
“We just hope that what we are telling the players is the right thing – and up until now it has been the right thing.”
Broos, a former Indomitable Lions head coach, said he is targeting a second Afcon title after his 2017 conquest.
“We beat Morocco. It’s something special. We had the right analysis on them," said Broos.
"Our tactic was the right one. In the first period, both teams were afraid. But then we scored first, and we were lucky too. Now we go for the big one which is the trophy."
Broos will be relying heavily on his midfield dynamo Teboho Mokoena to carry the can again for Bafana.
“Teboho did a fantastic performance in the last match when he won the "Player of the Match award. He is really the motive of the midfield, and it is good for the team also,” said Broos.
“I think it is also good for Teboho in this tournament. He is a guy who makes a big distance in a game. Looking for the ball and have great passes.
“So, he is a very good player and works a lot to help with his performances.”