Bafana Bafana vice-captain Percy Tau has shielded the current squad from critics in Ivory Coast and said they are targeting a ‘special’ Africa Cup of Nations.
The reigning CAF Inter-club Player of the Year was asked why South Africa has not lived up to the heights of their previous generations, to which he suggested that they cannot alone, as the current generation, be pointed fingers at.
Bafana won the 1996 AFCON on home soil, which marked their first tournament since readmission after the abolition of apartheid, but since, have not managed to taste glory despite boasting some impressive squads in the decades after.
There have been suggestions that the current crop of players, who are dominated by DStv Premiership players are perhaps, not at that level.
Mihlali Mayambela who plays in Cyprus and Sphephelo Sithole, in the Portuguese second division represent the only players in the squad based in Europe.
“People will always have perceptions of our national team, but we’ve tried our best over the years, we will still try our best and grow as a country,” Tau said when asked by local media why Bafana have not lived up to their glory days.
“I don’t think we’ve had so much success as a country, we only won the AFCON once, so you can’t place us that far, we’re still on our way up, and we want to do better in these competitions, we believe this is the moment to grow as a country and do something special here.”
With the squad having arrived this weekend in Khorogo, where they will be based for the next week and a half for the group stages, Tau ensured there have not been any issues with preparation and that the squad are in good spirits going into the opener against Mali.
“I think it’s difficult to play away [from home], the travelling involved, you also have to acclimatise to the weather, the food, the training pitches, I think we’ve handled it pretty well,” Tau said when asked by iDiski Times about the mood and preparation.
“Most of the squad is used to travelling and playing outside of the country, but it’s those in South Africa who don’t know what we’re going through, we’ve handled everything quite well – and we’re looking forward to the game, the pitch is great, we saw it in the morning.
“We’re playing against a difficult side, our group is difficult, we still have Namibia and Tunisia also – so we’re looking forward to all the matches, but we do believe in ourselves, we’re not overconfident, we’re grounded but that does not take away that we believe we can do something special, we want to do something special – that is the bottom line.”
Tau and co face off against the West Africans on Tuesday evening at 22h00 (SAT).