Matthew Booth confident Bafana Bafana can reach AFCON semifinals

Matthew Booth confident Bafana Bafana can reach AFCON semifinals
Matthew Booth during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 football match between SuperSport United and Sekhukhune United at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Pretoria on 07 October 2022 ©Gavin Barker/Sports Inc - Photo by Icon Sport

South African football legend Matthew Booth has expressed confidence in Bafana Bafana‘s ability to secure a spot in the semifinals of the upcoming AFCON tournament.

As the team departs for Ivory Coast, where the competition is set to unfold from January 11, Booth sees the current squad as having the potential to go all the way to the final or, at the very least, secure a position within the top four.

Safa President Danny Jordaan has pledged a substantial incentive of $7 million (R131 million) if the team emerges victorious in the tournament.

Bafana Bafana, who clinched their maiden title in 1996, are poised to make a formidable challenge with the backing of a promising lineup.

Matthew Booth tips Bafana Bafana for AFCON success: Semifinal aspirations and group dynamics

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Booth outlined his optimism for the team's performance in Group E, which includes Mali, Namibia, and Tunisia.

“I am hoping for a semifinal or possibly even a final. I believe Bafana Bafana can at least get to the semifinals,” Booth said.

Despite potential challenges, he emphasized the squad's hunger and balance, citing the first game against Mali as crucial to settling nerves and setting the tone for the tournament.

“Our team hasn’t had the greatest preparations but they can use the first game to get into the tournament. If we can avoid a defeat in the first game against Mali, I think we will settle our nerves. We have a balanced team full of hungry players.”

Acknowledging the winnable nature of their group, Booth outlined a strategy to secure advancement.

“Our group is a winnable group. We should be able to beat Namibia and avoid losing against Mali and Tunisia.

“Namibia knows us as well as we know them, so we must be careful against them, especially because they have a player like [Peter] Shalulile who’s a natural goal-scorer and knows the weaknesses of almost all Bafana players,” he concluded.

Highlighting the familiarity between Bafana Bafana and Namibia, Booth cautioned against complacency, particularly against goal-scoring threat Peter Shalulile.

Pre-tournament draw against Lesotho

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Bafana Bafana's recent goalless draw against Lesotho in their final build-up match provides coach Broos with insights to rectify mistakes before facing Mali on January 16.

The medical team is currently overseeing the management of Captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who is dealing with a knee issue.

Additionally, midfielder Themba Zwane sustained a knee injury a few days ago, and Mothobi Mvala is currently recovering from a groin injury.

The Belgian coach has set ambitious targets, aiming to guide his team to the latter stages of the biennial competition.

As the nation awaits the AFCON kickoff, Booth's optimism reflects hope and anticipation for a successful campaign by the South African team.

Bafana Bafana is set to commence their AFCON campaign against Mali on Tuesday, January 16, at 22:00 (SA time).

Following that, Broos' squad will take on Namibia on Sunday, January 21, at 22:00 (SA time), concluding their group stage matches against Tunisia on Wednesday, January 24, at 19:00 (SA time).

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Rababe Koussaimi, a 22-year-old football journalist, is deeply passionate about the world of sports. The Moroccan journalist channels her enthusiasm into writing and conducting extensive research, creating insightful and engaging content for GoalBallLive readers.