Ronwen Williams hopes Mamelodi Sundowns’ AFL success will inspire Bafana Bafana

Bafana Bafana captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams

FILE - Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams believes the club’s recent success on the continent could further the prospects of Bafana Bafana. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Nov 17, 2023

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Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams believes the club’s recent success on the continent could further the prospects of Bafana Bafana.

The South African men’s national team begin their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign at the weekend, and are looking to kick-start their journey with an injection of positivity.

Bafana will welcome Benin to the Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off) before jetting off to Rwanda for their second match in Group C on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old shot-stopper saved a penalty against Al Ahly in the semi-final of the African Football League (AFL), and Brazilians went on to eventually clinch the inaugural title.

Before their final match against Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca, Sundowns had to muscle their way past Petro de Luanda from Angola and Al Ahly, one of the most difficult routes in African club football.

However, Williams – who is also nominated for the CAF Goalkeeper of the Year award – believes that Masandawana overcoming all of these obstacles can only have a positive impact on Bafana.

“We learnt so much playing the AFL. It’s very tough playing every three or four days – you need to be mentally tough, especially with the long travelling,” the Bafana captain told the media.

“It’s just experiences that we’ve gained over the last few months and last few years, so we’ll share our experiences.

“We are facing a similar challenge now – we play home and then away, so it’s just for us to make sure that we recover well.”

Williams also challenged his charges to not seek any comfort in excuses, having been subjected to a lot of minutes at club level. He called for his side to be ‘mentality monsters’ ahead of their next outings.

“It’s just for us to recover well and remain hungry because this is our job. We can’t look for excuses. Everyone gets tired, but you get paid to do this job, so we need to be mentally prepared for this job.”

Williams’s journey as Bafana skipper began with the arrival of head coach Hugo Broos in the national team set-up.

The Gqeberha-born goal minder has been Broos’s go-to man from day one, and was a feature throughout Bafana’s failed World Cup qualification campaign for Qatar 2022.

However, now at the peak of his powers once more, Williams believes the heartbreak of two years ago has moulded them for the better as they attempt to keep their unbeaten 11-game streak going.

“I’m happy to be back at camp again. We’ve learnt a lot over the last two years (as Bafana) – the pain we felt has carried us through the last year or so,” he said.

“There’s a good feeling in the camp. The results we’ve gotten in the last few months have been amazing, and we want that to continue.

“There’s a lot of new faces and familiar faces, so it’s our job as leadership to make them feel welcome.”

IOL Sport