Head coach of South Africa’s national men’s team, Hugo Broos, has reacted to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations draw following the pairing of South Africa with Tunisia, Mali and Namibia in Group E on Thursday night.
At the draw ceremony for the continent’s biggest showpiece conducted at the newly built Parc des Expositions in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire’s Urban Centre, South Africa, who are former winners of the competition, found themselves in a tricky group with a past winner of the tournament and another team who have been runner-ups before.
South Africa makes a return to the AFCON finals in 2019 and they will be hoping to do much better than the quarterfinal finish four years ago.
Hugo Broos' reaction to the AFCON draw
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos reacted with a simple smile after his side got grouped with Tunisia, Mali and Namibia, but the Belgian tactician is confident they will be able to get out of the group stages.
“Obviously I am not unhappy when you see the teams in our group,” he said as he reflected on the draw.
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“I think in Mali and Tunisia we have big teams but I prefer to have Tunisia and Mali than to have Senegal or Ivory Coast. We know Namibia and I think we can achieve our best level and get through to the group stages.
“Our preparations at the moment are disturbed by injuries but we are three months away from the tournament and I am certainly not panicking.”
Before the draws, Bafana Bafana were placed in Pot Three and Broos said he was expecting his side to be drawn against two difficult teams but he's pleased with the draw.
“When you are in Pot Three, you don’t have to hope much because there are always two big teams in your group. What you see with Tunisia, they are certainly a big team also, they are a little bit less than Morocco, Senegal or the Côte d'Ivoire.
“Mali is not really the big team at the moment but it will be tough because they are good teams. I am happy with the draw because it could have been worse.”
Bafana Bafana's preparation for the AFCON
Bafana will face AFCON hosts Côte d'Ivoire in an international friendly on Tuesday in Abidjan and Broos said it is an opportunity for his team to test their might against a strong opposition in front of a large crowd.
“For us I think it is going to be a good game because we are going to be confronted with one of the best teams in Africa. We are going to play in a full stadium and against the host nation and this is good. It has been a few years since South Africa played in front of 30,000 to 40,000 people,” he added.
“That will be the case next Tuesday in Abidjan but that will be a good experience for us because at Afcon we will be playing in front of full stadiums.”
After this international window, World Cup qualifiers are set to begin before the AFCON finals in Côte d'Ivoire in January through to February and Broos said he hopes for no more injuries.
“I hope players who were injured over the past few matches can recuperate and we work towards the World Cup qualifiers and then Afcon. There is nothing bad for the moment but let's hope there are no more injuries and we can start to prepare the team.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago