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Parliament applauds Bafana Bafana’s Afcon performance

South Africa beat hosts Egypt last week and face Nigeria in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Bafana Bafana during their Afcon game against Egypt. Picture: Twitter @BafanaBafana.

CAPE TOWN - Bafana Bafana’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon) performances were commended in Parliament on Tuesday.

South Africa beat hosts Egypt last week and face Nigeria in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Parliament’s sports committee chairperson Beauty Dlulane said the victory spoke to the resilience of South Africans and their competitive edge to succeed on the global stage.

“We wish them to continue to put in the fire as they did in their last match. We are proud of them and we are hoping for the best in the next match.”

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter hailed South Africa's shock 1-0 defeat of Afcon hosts and title favourites Egypt in the last 16 on Saturday as a "masterclass".

Thembinkosi Lorch popped up with the winning goal five minutes from time to silence the partisan 75,000-capacity crowd in Cairo and shatter Egyptian hopes of a record eighth continental crown.

"We had three days to put together a game plan ... I think the players did really, really well, they had to play in a brave way and play high against such a good team as Egypt," said England-born Baxter.

"For me, that was the only way we could win the game because if you allowed them to build possession and get the ball to their best players, we would have massive problems."

Baxter faced criticism over the team's negative tactics during the group stage as they squeezed through in the final qualifying spot.

BAXTER KEEPS NIGERIA GUESSING

Baxter will keep Nigeria guessing over the approach he will adopt in their Afcon quarter-final on Wednesday after diverting from his usual style in the 1-0 win over hosts Egypt.

Under Baxter, South Africa normally play with a counter-attacking style but surprised Egypt on Saturday by diverting from that slightly and deploying an aggressive high press.

However, the Englishman would not reveal whether he would try that approach against the Super Eagles.

“The question for us is, do we tweak our way of playing against Nigeria before, which has worked quite well, when on the other hand we played very well against Egypt,” Baxter told reporters on Tuesday.

“We have to think about that one, but we should be under no illusions that Nigeria are one of the best teams on the continent, they have been stable under Gernot Rohr so it will be a massive and difficult game for us.”

South Africa, who hosted Afcon in 2013, beat Nigeria away in their opening match of the Afcon qualifiers in June 2017 - one of Rohr’s first games in charge of Nigeria - and were held 1-1 in the return.

The Bafana Bafana have been in the doldrums in recent years and, before this year’s tournament, had not won an Afcon finals match outside South Africa since 2004 when they beat Tunisia. They have also missed the last two World Cups.

“One of our players, Bongani Zungu was eight years (old) when South Africa last won an Afcon game on foreign soil so to go from that to beating the host nation the way we did is massive,” Baxter said.

“South Africans are not naturally mobile,” he added. “They are naturally good with the ball at speed and. .....naturally, they are not well organised. We try very hard to get that balance between getting organised and not inhibiting their attacking play.”

Baxter said it was important for him not to get carried away.

“One of the important things for us is to remain very, very humble,” he said.

“South Africa don’t need a coach who gets so carried away with himself that he can’t think on the bench and so you have to make it a day at the office, so you can see things happening in the game, you can change things in the game and you can keep yourself calm and you can still make decisions.”

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