Themba Zwane talks up Bafana’s title credentials at Africa Cup of Nations

Themba Zwane of South Africa during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Finals match between South Africa and Tunisia at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo

Themba Zwane was the outstanding player for Bafana in the past two games at the Africa Cup of Nations, racking up the player-of-the-match awards. Picture: Mehrez Toujani/BackpagePix

Published Jan 26, 2024


Themba Zwane is confident that Bafana Bafana can compete for the Africa Cup of Nations crown, considering the quality of players within the squad.

Bafana will face Morocco in the last 16 of the biennial showpiece in San-Pedro on Tuesday night (10pm kick-off, SA time) after finishing second in Group E with four points, one behind log leaders Mali.

It was a job well done for the South Africans, given that they managed to do what was needed in the last game: get a result against the third-ranked nation on the continent, Tunisia.

Bafana held the Carthage Eagles to a 0-0 draw in their last group stage match in Korhogo on Wednesday night, having trounced Namibia 4-0 in the previous game and lost 2-0 to Mali in the opener.

Key player

Zwane was the outstanding player for Bafana in the past two games, racking up the player-of-the-match awards. He also scored a brace against Namibia.

The 34-year-old, speaking to the media in the bowels of Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly after Bafana sealed their passage to the play-offs, heaped praise on their team for their exploits.

“I am happy that we qualified. I am happy for the team. We did well as a team,” the Bafana talisman said.

“First of all, we knew as a team it would be difficult and physical because we watched their games, and there was a lot of physicality.

“So, we had to fight and stand up for ourselves – and that’s what we did as a team. At the same time, we wanted to avoid unnecessary yellow cards and try to stay calm, but give them a fight.”

The fight must continue for Bafana against the Atlas Lions, given that this is a must-win game for coach Hugo Broos’ men if they are going to stay in the competition.

A lot of naysayers are already tipping Bafana to come unstuck, given that Morocco are the favourites as they are ranked No 1 on the continent and are unbeaten in the event so far.

Their latest victory was a 1-0 triumph over Zambia on Wednesday night.

The belief is there

But Bafana believe otherwise. They beat Morocco 2-1 in the reverse leg of the Afcon qualifiers – though that result came after the two teams had already qualified for the tournament.

And that’s not all. Mamelodi Sundowns’ 10 players in the SA squad, and Al Ahly’s Percy Tau, know continental football well.

Sundowns are the reigning champions of the inaugural African Football League, while Tau won the last instalment of the Champions League with Ahly recently.

So, with Morocco boasting just two local-based players, El Mehdi Benabid (AS FAR) and Yahya Attiat Allah (Wydad Casablanca), Zwane believes they’ll be able to match them.

“First of all, the rest will be good for us to try and bring the body back,” said Zwane prior to the six-day rest before the clash against Morocco.

“In terms of quality, we’ve shown that we have the quality.

“We have the quality to compete and try to push ourselves. When we play in the Champions League, we know the level is high here. (So) we can compete and go forward.”