Bafana scorecard: how the players have ranked at Afcon ahead of Nigeria semifinal

07 February 2024 - 17:44
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Bafana Bafana goalkepeer and captain Ronwen Williams celebrates with coach Hugo Broos after their penalties Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal win against Cape Verde at Stade Charles Konan in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast on February 3.
Bafana Bafana goalkepeer and captain Ronwen Williams celebrates with coach Hugo Broos after their penalties Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal win against Cape Verde at Stade Charles Konan in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast on February 3.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Few believed Bafana Bafana could make the semifinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations when the tournament started in Ivory Coast in early January. Indeed, their 2-0 loss in the opening tie against Mali seemed to justify that sentiment.

But Hugo Broos's team has surprised many since their 4-0 humiliation of neighbours Namibia in their second group match before they went on to beat Morocco 2-0 in the last 16 and Cape Verde 2-1 in the penalty shoot-out on Saturday to qualify for the semifinals against Nigeria in Bouake on Wednesday.

Here are the ratings of how each player has contributed to where Bafana are ahead of their much-awaited clash against the Super Eagles:

Ronwen Williams 9

That Bafana are in the semis is mainly due to their skipper and goalkeeper who played a blinder as he made four saves in the 2-1 penalty shoot-out win over Cape Verde in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Before Williams produced those heroics he had stopped a few shots that could have given the Blue Sharks a comfortable win in the 0-0 of the 120 minutes of the quarterfinal.

Even in four matches before that Williams contributed immensely in Bafana's progression, soundly commanding his area and with the way how the way he marshals a defence made of his four Mamelodi Sundowns teammates Khuliso Mudau, Grant Kekana, Mothobi Mvala and Aubrey Modiba. Williams is Bafana's best player at Afcon so far.

Khuliso Mudau 7

Mudau has been ever-present in all the Bafana matches and did well all of them, including in the epic clashes against Tunisia (0-0) in the last group game and the last 16 clash against Morocco. The Sundowns right-back is calm even under pressure and adds great variety when Bafana are in attack as he's often found dishing passes to attackers in the opposition box. Mudau is one of the reasons Bafana have conceded only two goals in five matches.

Aubrey Modiba 6

There was some concern from Hugo Broos about Modiba's ability to track back and mark, but in this Afcon he's shown not only his class in adding numbers when Bafana are in attack but is able to cover a lot of ground when it's time to defend. A versatile left-back who is very good in set pieces, Modiba has cemented his place in Bafana and has played every minute in the last five matches. 

Grant Kekana 6

Kekana didn't feature in the first match against Mali as Broos preferred Siyanda Xulu, whose pace was exposed, which was one of the reasons Bafana lost 2-0. Sundowns centre-half Kekana has not looked back since he starred in the 4-0 win against Namibia and is now a reliable cog alongside his clubmate Mothobi Mvala in the heart of Bafana's defence. Kekana's attributes include not panicking when the team is under pressure and has an ability to measure his tackles, especially in critical areas in and around the box. 

Mothobi Mvala 7

There was a huge scare just before the start of Afcon as Mvala nearly missed out due to injury. That Broos insisted that doctors do everything they could to get him fit is reflected in the way he's been crucial in the Bafana defence with the critical tackles he provides when the team is under siege. As a former central midfielder, Mvala is excellent in reading the danger from afar, making sure he's always found at the right place when he's needed. He's the man Bafana will rely upon the most against the dangerous attacking players of the Super Eagles.

Teboho Mokoena 8

There was never a doubt about the abilities of the Premier Soccer League's Footballer of the Year for 2022-23) in this Bafana team. He's played all their matches, performing like the seasoned pro he is, always giving his team control of the shape of the game. His ability to take pot shots and score through set pieces makes him one of the most complete midfielders SA has produced in a long time.

At 27, Mokoena still has a long way to go with Bafana and his prospects are looking increasingly good even beyond this Afcon as some overseas giants are make enquiries that could see him leave Sundowns at the end of the season. Mokoena scored one of the goals of the tournament in Bafana's astonishing 2-0 win against Africa's No.1-ranked side Morocco.

Sphephelo Sithole 7

Not many people knew Sithole before the Afcon in Ivory Coast but his performance makes his chances of finding a top club in a better league much more possible. Sithole plays for CD Tondela in Portugal's second tier, but the way he's complimented Mokoena in Bafana's central midfield at Afcon has surely raised his value.

Sithole is good in breaking the opposition attack and his pass is always measured. He can be found in attacking areas if the situation allows. At 24, Sithole is another player who may still play many years for the national side.

Percy Tau 6

There was a lot agony, doubts and criticism directed at Tau after he missed a crucial penalty in Bafana's opening defeat against Mali. Had Tau scored in that match Bafana would have taken the lead and probably got something fro game. But he is a seasoned Bafana campaigner and showed his class in taking another spot-kick in the second group match against Namibia. Tau is yet to show his highest form in this Afcon, but if there's one player who can inspire SA against Nigeria it is “the Lion of Judah”. Perhaps he's saved all his energy for this crucial match.

Thapelo Morena 6

A versatile right-footed player, Morena has been used in attacking midfield role by Broos and has not disappointed. If he can calculate his runs and shots, Bafana can benefit more out of him. Now that Thapelo Maseko is out of the tournament through injury, Morena will be needed even more in the game against Nigeria. His speed helps when Bafana are under attack on the right side where he combines well with his Sundowns teammate Mudau. 

Themba Zwane 7

When Zwane is in the mood, like he was when he scored a brace in Bafana's win against Namibia, there's not many team that can stop SA's creative playmaker. He has played an immense role in combining Bafana's midfield and attack and won man-of-the-match awards against Namibia and Tunisia, underlining how critical he is to Broos's plans. If Zwane can find his rhythm against Nigeria, Bafana may well win a first match against the Super Eagles at an Afcon finals. 

Evidence Makgopa 6

The gangling Orlando Pirates striker scored a crucial opening goal against Morocco and despite his limitations he's provided vital presence for Bafana in the opposition's danger area. Makgopa is sometimes guilty of being too generous to his teammates, giving them a pass or two when he's supposed to shoot for goal. If he can correct that he may still score important goals for Bafana in this Afcon.

Sydney Mobbie 4

Initially the right-back that Broos trusted the most, Mobbie has been providing good cover for Mudau and came on as a sub and did well in the games against Tunisia and Cape Verde. He's one of the most reliable of the substitutes. 

Thabang Monare 4

The Pirates midfielder provides crucial cover for many players in Broos's midfield. He's often take over from Sithole and Zwane in three matches that he's managed to get a few minutes. 

Thapelo Maseko 5

Maseko started against Mali and scored after coming on as a substitute in the second game against Namibia. The speedy winger was unlucky to get injured after he was brought on in the extra time in the game against Cape Verde. He pulled a muscle and will now watch Bafana's remaining matches from the stands. 

Mihlali Mayambela 4

Mayambela has come on twice as substitute but it was in the last game against Cape Verde where he showed how critical he can be for Bafana. He came close to scoring for Bafana seconds into the start of extra-time against the islanders and gave Bafana a lot of balance going forward.

Siyanda Xulu 3

Xulu was criticised for Mali's second goal in the opening fixture and his place has since been taken by Kekana. He remains a vital player for Bafana in case of injury to Kekana or Mvala.

Jayden Adams 4

Stellenbosch FC's young midfielder has looked relaxed in the few minutes he's played at Afcon, coming on as a late substitute in games against Namibia and Cape Verde. He's a player for the future for Bafana. 

Terrence Mashego 4

Mashego may not have got the few minutes he had against Cape Verde if his clubmate, Maseko, himself a substitute, was not injured. He provides important cover for Bafana on the left flank.

Yet to play:

Veli Mothwa

Ricardo Goss

Nkosinathi Sibisi

Aswin Apollis

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