A previous winner of the biennial, continental championship and the oldest of all the 24 coaches at the tournament, hosted by Ivory Coast, the Belgian made it clear he knows what folly it would be to allow his team to get carried away.
Comfortable 2-0 winners over the star-studded, continent’s “best” team, Morocco, Bafana are expected by many to make short work of the Atlantic Ocean islanders at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro (10pm kick-off).
That much Broos is aware of, and the many years he has spent leading clubs and countries from the dug-out have taught him enough to know not to take anything for granted. He is also wily enough to be aware that players are easily influenced by what they hear, and that success such as that over Morocco can lead to bloated heads, which often results in complacency.
Cape Verde deserve respect
But such has been Cape Verde’s progression to this stage of the tournament that the silver-haired coach says they deserve to be respected.
“If you are in a group with Ghana and Egypt and Mozambique and you are on top with seven points from nine, I don’t think you can say it is a weak team. So we know what is waiting for us [tonight] and I will do everything – and I am sure I don’t think we have a problem with that – to make sure that the players are thinking like me now. (They must be thinking) that it will be very difficult to win that game [on Saturday].”
He does acknowledge, though, that they have the belief they can be victorious.
“We are very happy to be still in this tournament,” he said during the pre-match media conference.
“When you play a game against the favourites of Afcon and you win it, I think you did a great performance and that performance gave us a great boost of confidence and belief in ourselves. So, I think we will be ready for the game [on Saturday].”
Their readiness, he explained, does not in any way mean they are taking victory for granted, Far from it.
“We don’t underestimate the team of Cape Verde, okay. They are not like the team of Morocco, who have players of quality who play in big teams in Europe. But what I saw from the team, I think we don’t have to underestimate them. They have quality; a team on the pitch with players who are disciplined and know their role and they do it 100 percent. It will be difficult to play against them.
“So, that means tomorrow we have to achieve our best again if we want to be in the semi-final, but it would be a very big mistake to think that after beating Morocco everything will be [easier]. If you compare the game of [tonight] (Cape Verde) and Tuesday (Morocco) there’s no difference, it will be as tough as Tuesday – that we know already.”
Bafana no pushovers
Aware that Cape Verde are a physically strong team “with big power, strength and big quality”, Broos is pleased his team has grown with the tournament and are no longer the push-overs they were against Mali in their opening match.
“The championship of South Africa is more technical and not physical at all. But we are playing differently. We changed as a team and we saw in the tough games we played, certainly in the game of Tuesday (against Morocco), we were physically as good as the others and that is a big progression that we have made.”
A much bigger progression would be reaching the semi-final for the first time since the 2000 tournament co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria, when they finished in third place. Broos and his team would love to go even further though.
“It’s certainly a motivation for all my players that it has been so long a gap that South Africa played a semi-final or final. That motivates us to do as well as the guys of 96 (Afcon winners). It’s normal that as a sportsman you want to do great things.”
Beating Cape Verde on Saturday would be a major step to great things, no doubt.