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Bongani Zungu believes Bafana can compete with best in Africa

Bafana Bafana's midfielder Bongani Zungu reacts to their defeat during the team's Afcon quarter final match against Nigeria on July 9, 2019.
Bafana Bafana's midfielder Bongani Zungu reacts to their defeat during the team's Afcon quarter final match against Nigeria on July 9, 2019.
Image: Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

What Bafana Bafana should take from their 2-1 quarterfinal defeat against Nigeria and from their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations performance as a whole is that they have the talent to compete with the best teams in Africa, goal-scorer Bongani Zungu said afterwards.

Zungu said after he had headed in his 71st-minute VAR-allowed goal against Nigeria at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night, Bafana had the belief that they could score again.

SA appeared headed into extra-time having battled back tenaciously from a first-hour dominance by the Super Eagles and Samuel Chukwueze's 26th-minute strike. Who knows what might have happened had they got there?

But a lapse in their strong point of the tournament - their defence - allowed centre-back William Troost-Ekong to score unmarked from a corner kick in the 88th minute.

Bafana at Egypt 2019 were an imperfect team who produced one spectacular, perfect performance by shocking the hosts 1-0 in the last-16.

Coach Stuart Baxter's failure was that he could not get runners such as Percy Tau, Thembinkosi Lorch and Themba Zwane into play more.

But the impeccable structure shown by the South Africans has laid a roadmap for future success at a tournament where Bafana have underachieved for decades.

Zungu, perhaps SA's star of the Nations Cup, was asked what he had learned from the game against Nigeria.

"It's not finished until the referee blows the final whistle. We need to concentrate the full 90 minutes," he said.

"And we need to grow as players, and realise that we've got the talent to compete against the best in Africa. And hopefully in the future we'll do well. In the tournament, we didn't start good, and we picked up against Egypt."

Zungu said after he scored, Bafana began to believe they could win a game they had largely been chasing until then.

"Because we were playing well, it gave us belief. I felt we would probably score a second," he said.

"But it's football man. You know. And in a crucial moment - a corner kick - we lost concentration.

"Ja, but my goal gave belief. And the team, you know, we had hope.

"Personally, I'm grateful that I was part of the team. I felt I played really well coming from an injury."

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