Bafana Bafana's best moments from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations

Bafana Bafana's best moments from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations

Bafana Bafana's hopes of winning AFCON came to an end in the semi-final against Nigeria on Wednesday night - and there were plenty of great moments from a campaign to be proud of.

Before the tournament began, not many gave Bafana much of a chance of advancing from their group, let alone making it all the way to the final four of the competition and now having a shot at finishing third.

There is always heartache when a team loses in a competition, and that is especially the case the closer you get to the end, but it is important to remember this was a very successful tournament for South Africa - and one they can hopefully use to build for the future.

Here, SABC Sport takes a look at a few of the best moments from Hugo Broos' charges deep run into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Thrashing Namibia

While beating Namibia would not usually be something to celebrate but rather something that is expected of a team like Bafana Bafana, the situation was slightly different at AFCON.

South Africa were coming off a defeat to Mali while Namibia had made history by beating much-favoured Tunisia. Upsets were coming thick and fast at the tournament and, all of a sudden, most people weren't so convinced about Bafana Bafana's chances.

However, they quickly put those concerns to bed by putting their northern neighbours to the sword and scoring four goals in a rout that stands as one of the biggest wins in the 2023 tournament.

In the circumstances, it was an epic display by The Boys.

Themba Zwane bossing the midfield

This isn't based on a single moment but Themba Zwane's performances in midfield for Bafana Bafana at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations have been second to none.

So much of what South Africa have been able to do at the tournament stems from their control of the middle of the park and that, in turn, comes as a direct result of the influence of Zwane.

He was exceptional throughout the tournament but if there was one performance which exemplified his importance to South Africa, it was how he controlled the first half of the semi-final against Nigeria.

Holding out against Tunisia

Walking onto the pitch against Tunisia, Bafana Bafana might have been excused for being among the many who felt this should be an easy game for them. Tunisia had lost to Namibia, a team South Africa had soundly beaten.

However, as was the theme throughout the tournament, things did not turn out how anyone expected. The Carthage Eagles were the better team for most of the game and put South Africa under immense pressure.

The defence did a phenomenal job keeping Tunisia at bay and proved that Bafana Bafana could compete at both ends of the pitch after a worrying performance against Mali earlier in the tournament.

READ MOREBafana leave final mark on Jose Peseiro as they exit the AFCON

Ronwen Williams' penalty heroics

This list and many others about the tournament could not be complete without mentioning the heroic performance of South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams in the quarter-final against Cape Verde.

The match seemed destined for penalties from quite early on and when the brutal encounter ended 0-0, both sides prepared for the inevitable.

No one could have predicted how things would go down, though, as Williams would go on to save four of Cape Verde's five penalties to drag his team into the semi-finals.

It is no secret that penalties are something of a lottery in football and it never feels fair when a team is knocked out because of them.

But as Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos said after the game: "We were not lucky because we had a very good keeper. If you can save four penalties, this is not luck anymore. You can save one, but four, this is not luck."

Bringing fans back to Bafana Bafana

The most important thing South Africa did at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was to get the country's football fans excited about the national team again.

It has been far too long since Bafana Bafana were in the headlines for the right reasons and, while this isn't the place to discuss the many reasons why South Africa perennially underperform on the international football stage, it is the time to celebrate a marvellous run by this team - and they can use it to achieve more success going forward.

South Africa fans should all be very grateful that Broos has no plans to retire any time soon.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKEHugo Broos: The pride outweighs the disappointment after AFCON defeat