As Bafana Bafana gears up for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, captain Ronwen Williams emphasizes the need for the squad to “dream high” while remaining grounded in their aspirations.
South Africa's bafana bafana, currently in camp in Stellenbosch, is set to embark on the AFCON journey next week.
Williams, one of the three players in the squad with prior AFCON experience, shares insights into the team's ambitions and the challenges they anticipate.
Williams, alongside Percy Tau and Themba Zwane, was part of Stuart Baxter's squad that reached the quarter-finals in the 2019 AFCON.
Bafana Bafana Aims to outperform previous AFCON quarter-final finish
With aspirations to surpass their previous performance, the captain acknowledges the difficulty of the challenge ahead.
He expresses optimism about going a step further but underscores the importance of maintaining a realistic perspective.
“Hopefully, I can go a step further than the previous one,” Williams said.
Bafana bafana's absence from the tournament for an extended period adds an extra layer of complexity to their campaign.
“We went out in the last eight (in 2019). So, it’s possible, we need to dream high as a country, but we need to be realistic as well. You know we haven’t been part of the tournament for a very long time.”
In a recent statement, Williams reflects on the team's growth over the past two years, highlighting the valuable lessons learned and the cohesive work achieved.
“But I’m very happy to be part of this wonderful group that we’ve got now. I think we’ve done extremely good work over the last two years or so,” the captain added.
The experienced goalkeeper sees the upcoming AFCON as an opportunity to capitalize on the progress made by the team.
Valuable experiences to navigate intense AFCON schedule
Williams believes that sharing experiences, especially with players who were part of the previous AFCON, is crucial in navigating the mental and physical demands of the tournament.
“We’ve learnt valuable lessons over the last few years, and it’s just for myself and some of the players that were there at the previous AFCON, to just share our experiences, because it does get tough, having to play every three, four days.”
Playing high-quality games every three to four days can be mentally draining, and Williams acknowledges the toughness of the competition.
As a senior player, he emphasizes the role of sharing experiences to guide the younger members of the squad through the challenging tournament schedule.
“It’s not easy. It’s tough and you’re playing high-quality games, of consequence. Mentally, it can drain one, so that’s where myself and other senior players will just share our experiences,” he concluded.
The captain's focus on mental resilience aligns with the understanding that success in AFCON requires not only skill on the field but also a strong collective mindset.
Bafana Bafana's AFCON campaign kicks off on January 16 against Mali, followed by matches against Namibia on January 21 and Tunisia on January 24.
Bafana bafana captain's call to “dream high” resonates with the team's ambition to make a lasting impact in the tournament, but Williams remains cognizant of the need for a balanced and realistic approach.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago