South Africa coach Hugo Broos is wary of an ever-improving Nigeria but believes his side can keep their surprise run going at the Africa Cup of Nations and come out victorious in Wednesday’s semi-final in Bouake.
Bafana Bafana booked their berth with a dramatic 2-1 penalty shoot-out victory over Cape Verde in which goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved a tournament record four spot-kicks.
They have now kept four clean sheets in a row, as have Nigeria, and it is set to be a titanic clash between two old foes, even if the Super Eagles likely go in as favourites.
“Nigeria are a team who have become better and better with every game at this Afcon,” Broos said. “It’s a good team and a very good side with a few good players like the one, what’s his name? Look … (Ademola Lookman). The one who scored the goal.
“He is a very good player. We have to analyse them a little bit more now that we know we are playing against them in the semi-finals.
“We will see how we can use the weaknesses in this team and be aware of the qualities of this team. It’s going to be a little bit special because in a few months we are playing in the World Cup qualifiers. So, it can be a test for the both of us.”
Not many inside or outside South Africa expected to see Bafana in the semi-finals, but their excellent organisation and desire from the players has pushed them to this point.
“This means a lot,” Broos said. “We came here and, I think, there were many people in South Africa who didn’t believe in the team. But we believed in it, the fact that it could happen, and it happened.
“It is a very good thing for South African football. South African players are in the picture now. That means there will be more interest in South African football.
“And I hope that those who saw the games, and there will be a lot of people who saw the games, are now convinced that the PSL [Premier Soccer League] level has to be higher.
“We have to work on that. We play very intensive games, and you see that some players are suffering (physically). So, that means the level has to be higher to do that.
“Being in the semi-finals is something special for South African football. Let’s hope now that we can make a surprise here because the hunger is big to play the final on Sunday.”