Door to Europe open for improving Bafana players

‘They have shown they can play, it is certainly a good thing for South African football if the interest is there again,’ said the Bafana head coach.

Hugo Broos believes that Bafana Bafana’s performance in the Africa Cup of Nations has given more South African players a chance to move to European clubs. 

Bafana were beaten on penalties by Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals on Wednesday, but gave a Super Eagles team packed with overseas-based talent a massive scare. South Africa also beat Morocco in the last 16. and held their own against Tunisia in the group stages, putting together a string of impressive performances against so-called bigger teams on the continent.

Bafana had more locally-based players in their side than any other team at the tournament, a good advertisement for the DStv Premiership, especially Mamelodi Sundowns, who provided at least seven players in the starting XI for every game.

“It is a big satisfaction (for me) that we are not playing and winning (these) games against little countries,” said Broos after his side had been edged out by the Super Eagles.

“We beat Morocco twice (Bafana also beat Morocco 2-1 in AFCON qualifying), we played a fantastic game against the Ivory Coast in November (a 1-1 friendly draw in Abidjan). Our performances here at the AFCON have been very good.

‘We are a good team today’

“We are a good team today, so that means we don’t need to have fear any more when we are playing big African countries. We are good and we have to believe in that.

“It is something I have always said to the players, ‘believe in yourselves, you have the qualities’. We had to change some things and they did that and that is why I am so proud of these guys.

“I really think for some players the door is now open to Europe. They have shown they can play, it is certainly a good thing for South African football if the interest is there again.”

Bafana will have a chance to get revenge over Nigeria by finishing top of Group C and qualifying for the 2026 Fifa World Cup finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

They travel to Nigeria to face the Super Eagles in June with the return match set for September 2025. Bafana are currently second in the group behind surprise leaders Rwanda. Nigeria are third in the group after drawing their first two qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Lesotho.