Former Bafana Bafana striker Siyabonga Nomvethe says if coach Hugo Broos doesn’t win the next four matches before the Africa Cup of Nations finals, then everyone must forget that they will do well in the tournament in Ivory Coast next year.
Bafana was drawn in the AFCON finals draw in Abidjan on Thursday with Namibia, Mali and Tunisia.
However, before the tournament starts, Bafana will play four important matches to build the momentum.
Bafana, after playing eSwatini on Friday and 2023 AFCON host nation Ivory Coast on Tuesday, will have two 2026 World Cup qualifiers next month against Benin at home and Rwanda away, where wins are non-negotiable.
Bhele, who scored 16 goals in 78 appearances for Bafana, said these games are a cornerstone to build the winning momentum to get a buy-in from the country.
“If you don’t get the results in these matches, you will be under pressure,” said Nomvethe.
“We expect you to win so that we can support you. If you don’t perform today, we automatically have question marks of what you are going to do at the AFCON and our minds think you are going to be doing the very same thing.
“You go to the AFCON with confidence and wins. If you go to AFCON without confidence of wins, you will end up being confused with your own team selection – you end up selecting players that you don’t need.
“In Broos’ mind, he already has players that will be part of the AFCON.”
Bafana, however, will be encouraged that in the past matches against Namibia at the AFCON finals, they have beaten them twice – in the 2019 edition in Egypt and also in the 1998’s where Benni McCarthy scored a famous four goals under the legendary Jomo Sono.
Bafana beat Tunisia to win the AFCON in 1996 but lost to them in 2008 edition in Ghana to finish bottom of the group. Mali recently also stopped Bafana in the 2013 edition, losing on penalty shootouts at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the quarter finals.
Broos is already up against it, with a lack of attendance at home and captain Ronwen Williams urged the association to do better by ensuring the players are going to the shopping malls to garner support.
However, Nomvethe, who scored when Bafana also beat Tunisia to win the AFCON bronze medal in 2000’s edition, says this is perfect for Broos heading to the AFCON with little expectation from Mzansi.
“When you are in that situation, it gives you motivation when you go to the competition when no one believes in you,” said Bhele, who scored when Bafana won their first World Cup match in 2002 against Slovenia.
“When you go to war and people at home say ‘obviously, they don’t care about us’ but as players you say ‘let’s go and do the job so that we can get them back’.
“But if the results aren’t coming, I will maintain – no one will support you because even yourself you won’t go to watch at the club level and people are losing 7-0. Okay, you can shrug it off once, but the second time they lost 5-0, then you will feel it is the worst time to watch these people.”