AFCON 2023: Four things we learned as Bafana drew Tunisia to qualify for R16

AFCON 2023: Four things we learned as Bafana drew Tunisia to qualify for R16
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana followed their emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Namibia with a solid display against Tunisia in their last Group E Africa Cup of Nations encounter on Wednesday evening.

The fiercely contested battle between these sides at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo kept fans on the toes of their feet for the entire encounter.

However, with Tunisia more desperate for a win, both sides had to settle for a goalless draw which ensured South Africa progressed into the 2023 AFCON Round of 16 as they finished second, just behind Mali, in Group E.

On the other hand, the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia joined their North African counterparts Algeria to exit the competition after earning just 2 points in three group stage matches.

Here are four lessons drawn from the affair!

Four things we learned from Bafana's goalless draw with Tunisia

Tunisia didn't do enough in attack

The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia were the better side in the encounter but they failed to pick maximum points off South Africa.

Jalel Kadri's men had 55% ball possession and attempted 11 shots which two went on target. They created two big chances to score but failed to put the ball into the back of the net. In so doing, their lackluster attack ensured Bafana Bafana took a point in the game to finish second in the group.

Themba Zwane and Percy Tau have good understanding

Themba Zwane in action for Bafana
Credit: Icon Sport

The midfield duo of Themba Zwane and Percy Tau continued their impressive performance from the win over Namibia as they displayed great understanding in the middle of the pack for Bafana Bafana.

Zwane and Tau combined effortlessly on many occasions in the battle against the Tunisians, creating half chances here and there in the team's forrays into the opponent's defensive lines.

Along with Teboho Mokoena and Sphephelo Sithole, Zwane and Tau helped to maintain the balance in the midfield, helping in defense when it mattered, and Zwane was duly rewarded as Man of the Match.

South Africa's back four were resolute and unswerving

One good thing going on for Hugo Broos' side now in this competition is their resolute defense which picked up after the loss to Mali.

Bafana Bafana team photo
Credit: Icon Sport

The backline composed of Mamelodi Sundowns' players in Khuliso Mudau, Grant Kekana, Mothobi Mvala, and Aubrey Modiba brought their A-game and club understanding in defense for Bafana Bafana.

These guys played a crucial role in keeping Tunisia at bay to ensure goalkeeper Ronwen Williams kept his second clean sheet of the tournament.

South Africa won't be easy to beat in the Round of 16

Broos' team have generally improved so much in this competition after their opening day loss to Mali. The synergy from the goalkeeper, defense, midfield, and attack is going to be a big problem for their Round of 16 opponent, Morocco.

With a point needed to seal progression against Tunisia, South Africa did just what's needed of them. Together they attacked when necessary, and defended collectively to see out the all-important draw. They will be very difficult to beat in the next round with full capability to knock out the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists.

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.