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Bafana produced goods when it really mattered

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It was good to see Bafana give their all, producing a performance that South Africans expected from them

Thembinkosi Lorch of South Africa celebrates goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals last 16 match between Egypt and South Africa at Cairo International Stadium, Photo: EPA/Samuel Shivambu

IT TOOK four games, but Bafana Bafana finally delivered on their promise to make the nation proud.

Their win over Egypt in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) gave South Africans something good to cheer about on the sporting front after a disappointing two months where our teams didn’t bring much joy.

The Proteas, Banyana Banyana, Baby Boks and the men’s national Under-20 teams all struggled in their world cups forcing Bafana to take over as the team that would bring joy to the nation.

Bafana’s performance against the seven-time Afcon winners was their best in this competition after their slow start. It saw the real Bafana come to the fore, using their speed and good touches to frustrate Egypt and then shock them with a 1-0 win.

The 75000 fans who filled Cairo International Stadium looked bleak after Thembinkosi Lorch found the back of the net. Stunned silence greeted his goal.

It was good to see Bafana give their all, producing a performance that South Africans expected from them.

The team had been poor before but found their rhythm when it mattered. There was character and fighting spirit.

Now they have to bring the same approach to their match against Nigeria to progress to the last 16.

Bafana have a knack of producing dramatic wins when the nation least expects them to do so.

Most South Africans had already given up when the subject of calculators came up with the team needing a superior goal difference to be one of three best third-placed finishers.

If Bafana can keep this up, they would be world beaters, but the problem is that they drop their guard against the so-called small teams. These are the ones that have tested South Africa.

It’s good then that they face a good team on Wednesday, as they have no choice but to raise their game against Nigeria. This mental challenge is one that needs to be addressed for long-term benefits of the team and country.