AFCON: We Will Not Lose Focus, Semifinal Clash Against Nigeria Will be Different — South African Coach

South Africa’s Coach speaking on AFCON match

In preparation for the highly anticipated Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final clash against Nigeria, South African Coach Hugo Bruce has announced a strategic shift in their approach, pledging to approach the game differently than their quarter-final victory against Cape Verde.

In a press conference, Bruce emphasised the challenge posed by Nigeria’s talented players, singling out Ademola Lookman.

He assured that the team would not lose focus and stressed the importance of players being in good condition, highlighting the need for adequate rest and recovery during the preparation period.

Reflecting on the quarter-final AFCON match, where goalkeeper Ronwen Williams played a pivotal role in a 5-3 penalty shootout win after a goalless 120 minutes, Bruce attributed the success to hard work rather than luck. He praised Williams for stopping four penalty kicks.

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During the press conference, he stated, “The semi-final match will be different against Nigeria, which has good players like (Ademola) Lookman.

“We will not lose focus. The players will be in good condition, so we need to rest and recover to start our preparation,” he emphasised.

He noted that the pressure of qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time in AFCON made the game tougher.

“When we got to the penalty shootout, it was a special thing for the players, because during training they were scoring them.

“When we have a goalkeeper who stops four penalty kicks, this is not luck but a lot of hard work.

“There was a lot of pressure in the match. Everyone wanted to qualify.

“This match was unlike the previous ones. We did not show the same performance as we had in previous matches,” he disclosed.

He also noted that not many people in South Africa believed in the team, saying that he was proud of what his boys had achieved so far.

“In spite of all the doubts, we believed in it, and the players believed in themselves as well.

“Reaching the semi-finals is in itself a good thing for South African football,” Bruce concluded.