Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana winger Siphiwe Tshabalala says the current squad is showing potential and urged supporters to show faith in head coach Hugo Broos.
Tshabalala, 39, represented South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations whilst still in the second tier with then-club Free State Stars, the start of a 91-cap journey which began under the late Ted Dimitru.
He went on to feature in three AFCON’s, Confederations Cup, CHAN and scored the opening goal of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on home soil but never managed to win silverware with his generation which promised much.
But Tshabalala feels under Broos, there are reasons to be optimistic and sees more positives than negatives.
“We should give them a chance, everyone deserves a chance, I mean, I’m sure even when I was called up for the first time nobody believed in me, nobody gave me a chance, but the coach [at the time] gave me a chance,” Tshabalala said.
“We’ve got good players that are doing well and I do believe we need to give the coach a chance, give him space to do his work, he knows what he’s doing and players as well, they must just fight for him, fight for the country, there’s a lot at stake.
“When you playing for the national team, you don’t represent only your team or family, you are an ambassador for the country and it’s important that you perform and do your best all the time – so far it looks like we’re heading into the right direction, slow strides but I see progress.
“For us to get there, we need to rally behind them and they must also show consistency as well, as we go to a tournament where the best players will be playing there. It’s every footballer’s dream to represent their country and go to AFCON.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world and the number one of the continent, so it’s important to support them and respect coaches selection and the players called upon.”
The Soweto-born talent went on to cite the examples of the Morocco and Ivory Coast games, in which South Africa won 2-1 against the 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists and drew 1-1 with the upcoming AFCON hosts in the space of the last few months.
“We played against some of the best players, in some of the best leagues in the world, so we showed we can compete, we showed we have quality,” he added.
“We just need to be consistent and have the same mindset when we play the top 10 ranked nations in Africa, must apply against Rwanda, Lesotho and Namibia, we need to respect opponents, respect in terms of performing well and wanting to improve. We need to win the trust of the nation.”
South Africa take on Benin on Saturday afternoon at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban for the opening 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Group C.