Danny Jordaan attends the 2019 CAF Ordinary General Assembly Press Conference at the Marriot Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky BackpagePix

CAIRO – Bafana Bafana have no choice but to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) that will be staged in Cameroon. This is the clear message from the president of the South African Football Association (Safa), Danny Jordaan, to the players and the coaching staff.

Bafana were drawn in a relatively easy group in the qualifiers of the next continental showpiece. They will do battle with Ghana, Sudan and the winner of the play-off tie between Sao Tome and Mauritius. The top two teams in that group will qualify for the continental showpiece.

“I would expect us to qualify,” Jordaan said. “I think that we can qualify. There is no reason for us not to. What is the issue is if we will end up on top or second. That is what we have to deal with, with Ghana. I think that we have the team. We have to see. But this tournament also showed that there are no easy matches on the African continent any more. There is no small nation in the continent any more.”

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He continued: “Benin came with the perception that they are a small country. They walked away as one of the major forces on the African continent, and so did Guinea.

“Who would have dreamt that Madagascar could face stiff challenges and reach the quarter-finals? The notion when you look at the group that there are small and big team, that’s out of the question. We have to work hard and we have to be here again. We have made our mark here, we must be back. We can bring a stronger, better team because we do have the players.”

It remains to be seen if coach Stuart Baxter will be the one who leads the team in Cameroon. Jordaan said that the coach had to write a report on the Afcon. That report would be analyses by the technical committee who would then decide whether to stick with Baxter on not.

Baxter has had a mixed performance as Bafana coach. He failed to take them to last year’s World Cup in Russia, but led the side to the quarter-finals of the Afcon in Egypt, producing that historic win over the hosts to eliminate them in the last 16.

“We are in a position now where as South Africa we are able to put together a team, not just for today and tomorrow, but also for the sustainable future,” Jordaan said.

“If you look at the team that played in this Afcon, some of the best performers are also the youngest. (Lebogang) Maboe is an excellent player, so are (Thembinkosi) Lorch and Percy Tau. If you look at all the players we have, including those who are in Europe, Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23, we are able to put together a team that can compete.”

Malik Said