Bafana leave final mark on Jose Peseiro as they exit the AFCON

Bafana leave final mark on Jose Peseiro as they exit the AFCON

Nigerian national team head coach Jose Peseiro was once again full of praise for Bafana Bafana after they had to go through the lottery of the penalty shootout, to eliminate their South African counterparts 4-2 in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) first semifinal.

Peseiro had seen his team take the lead from the penalty spot with captain William Troost-Ekong converting after Mothobi Mvala had brought down African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen inside the box.

READ: Hugo Broos: The pride outweighs the disappointment after AFCON defeat

 But a Teboho Mokoena penalty on the stroke of full-time forced the game into extra-time. There were nervy moments for the Super Eagles, but they prevailed on penalties, Peseiro once again has been left impressed by Bafana.

''A very good victory, against a very good team. I said yesterday that the best organisation belongs to this team, this is because they play together -  most of them play for the same team - Mamelodi Sundowns, it is difficult to beat them,'' said Peseiro.

On a day when Hugo Broos switched his tactical approach to a 3-4-3 to counter the dangerous Nigerian wing play, Peseiro also gave credit to the 71-year-old coach.

With the highly technical and well-coached Mamelodi Sundowns players dominating this team, Peseiro acknowledges the role Broos has played in getting this Bafana Bafana team to be competitive.

 ''For the team and for the coach of course, about nine of these players play for Sundowns, they did a fantastic job. They worked hard to put us out, but in the penalty shootout we were stronger,'' added Peseiro.

 The mental strength of the Nigerian players also shone through for them even when it looked like Bafana Bafana were ready to kill off the game towards full-time.

Peseiro says after surviving a late onslaught from Bafana, the break before extra time helped them to regroup.

''Our team belonged and had a very big team spirit. Just looking at our entire squad - it is difficult to beat us. I saw them go through the extra time with confidence ahead of their opponents,'' he concluded.

Peseiro, a well-traveled Portuguese-born coach, who was also Carlos Queiroz’s assistant at Real Madrid, his credentials include taking Sporting Lisbon to the UEFA Cup final in the 2004-2005 season and also winning the Egyptian League title with the African club of the century Al Ahly.

 Asked if winning the AFCON will be the highlight of his career, Peseiro who came to this tournament under pressure to deliver, the 63 year-old says they take their inspiration from playing against strong teams in their preparation and international friendlies when they come.