Home Sport Ronwen Williams says Bafana is determined to get through Afcon group stage

Ronwen Williams says Bafana is determined to get through Afcon group stage

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Ronwen Williams would love to lead Bafana Bafana to at least a semi-final appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams realistically accepts that glory at the Afcon could be a bridge too far for South Africa’s senior national team. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Ronwen Williams would love to lead Bafana Bafana to at least a semi-final appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, which is set to take place in the Ivory Coast beginning this weekend.

The Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper – who only recently experienced continental glory with his club when they won the inaugural eight-team African Football League – realistically accepts that glory at the Afcon could be a bridge too far for South Africa’s senior national team.

Although that is not to say he is not aiming for it, Williams feels improvement on the showing from last time around would be good enough.

“Hopefully, we can go a step further than the previous one (the 2019 edition), when we went into the last eight, so you know it’s possible,” Williams said in an interview with the Safa media department in Stellenbosch, where Bafana are in camp before travelling to the Ivory Coast.

‘Dream high’

“We need to dream high as a country, but be realistic as well. You know we have not been part of the tournament for a very long time.

“I am very happy to be part of this group and I believe we have done extremely well over the last two years or so. We’ve learnt valuable lessons over the last few years, and it is up to myself and the other players who have been there in the last tournament to share our experience.”

That experience has taught him that the Afcon is not an easy tournament.

“It does get tough. Having to play every three or four days – it is not easy. It is tough (because) you are playing high quality games of consequence. It is mentally tough.

“It can drain one, you know. So, that’s where myself and the other senior players will share our experiences (with the younger ones).”

Coach Hugo Broos agrees it will be difficult, but the Belgian also believes progression past the group stage is attainable.

“It is not the most difficult group. We have, in Tunisia and Mali, two good opponents – teams who are nearly always at that level.

“Mali are playing a kind of home game (because the Ivory Coast is) near to the border of Mali. So, they will be very motivated. It will not be easy.

“And then you have Namibia – maybe they are the team that nobody expects (to do well), but we played against them a few months ago and they are well organised. It will be tough but there are some possibilities and if we can reach our best level, then we have a chance to go through the group stages.”

Bafana open their tournament next week Tuesday with a clash against the Eagles of Mali, and then take on Namibia five days later before they conclude their group stage assignments against Tunisia on January 24.

The top two teams qualify for the next round, while the four best third-placed teams from the six groups will also progress.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

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