Former South Africa defender Jethro Mohlala has warned the supporters not to put Bafana Bafana under pressure following their win over Egypt at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s men are through to the quarter-finals of the continental tournament and many have backed the team to go all the way and become champions for the second time.
“Look, I think many South Africans never gave the boys a chance based on how the results in the group stages came out. I believe that also helped the players to relax because they were underdogs going into that clash,” Mohlala told Sky News Africa.
“Having said that, they knew their qualities and they just had to play their normal game and show their quality and they did everything well,” he added.
“They are aware that the fans back home were not happy and they had to step up. They silenced everyone and that will restore their confidence. That is a massive victory for the team without a doubt. I never gave them a chance they proved us wrong, that was pure class and I just think they can beat whoever they face going forward.
Speaking about team selection as goalscorer Thembinkosi Lorch replaced Themba Zwane, Mohlala expressed disappointment where fans tend to individualise players based on their clubs.
“Yeah, they played very well, the change was good and it worked. Credit must go to the coach and his technical team. I am not happy though when we mention players based on their clubs, this is a national team,” he urged.
“We just need to support them as a national team. Lorch did very well for us and he clicked with Percy Tau and it was good that we scored at that time in the game. Lorch is a great player, I hope he learns day by day and we wish them all the best going forward.”
Moreover, the former Mamelodi Sundowns player stated that facing Nigeria in a quarter-final clash on Wednesday is better than meeting a fellow Southern African side.
“I think that’s going to be a good game against Nigeria and the boys will need to focus. It’s better we are not facing another Southern African side,” continued the legend.
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“I think the North and West Africans are struggling to play against us. They cannot match our pace and skill. I would like to see a continuity from the boys and ensure we upset Nigeria.
“I think we also need to credit the coach for analyzing the game very well. I believe that it’s not about playing badly in the group stages, but we failed to clear the lines at the back and lapses of concentration let us down – our mistakes killed us,” he reflected.
“Other than that, we still have a good team and we can go all the way to challenge for the trophy. It’s a knockout stage and we can beat any team now but let’s not put the boys under pressure. I am proud of the team and players such as Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo showed us that they want to die for the national team,” concluded the legend.