South Africa coach Hugo Broos said he was proud of his players after they edged Democratic Republic of Congo on penalties to claim the bronze medal at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast.
Bafana had lost on spot-kicks to Nigeria in the semifinals but rallied to leave west Africa with a medal and underline their potential as a side. It was the best finish for the COSAFA region at the finals since Zambia took gold in 2012.
“I said after Nigeria match that I was proud of this team, and I think people can see why I say I am proud of this team. We were not fresh but when you see the mentality in that group, it is impressive,” Broos said.
“The boys did very well. They showed great mentality. They tried to do what I asked, and I understand that it was difficult. It shows that we if we have problems, we can count on those who are on the bench.
“I was satisfied with players on the pitch, but I was even more satisfied with those not on the pitch. They were encouraging them and pushing them. From this, you know that you have 23 guys who want one thing and that is winning.”
Broos expects his side to improve from here with key World Cup qualifiers in June away at Nigeria and home to Zimbabwe.
“With this third place, we don’t have to think now everything is okay, there is still a lot of work to do,” the Belgian coach said. “But I think the basic is there, everyone knows now that when they play for the national team, what we expect from a player, is the good mentality, and we show it.
“If you can play all those games like my team did then you have the right mentality so again the basics is there now. The players are there now, even though we still have to go and work on it and try to progress with the team.
“But yes, we are two steps further than two years ago and I think this is very important.”