Steve Barker: Bafana Bafana’s AFCON success proves we have a strong league

Steve Barker: Bafana Bafana’s AFCON success proves we have a strong league

Before Bafana Bafana departed for the 2023 AFCON, Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker was one of the PSL coaches who were positive about Bafana’s success at the tournament.

Bafana managed to clinch bronze at the AFCON, making it to the semifinals of the tournament for the first time since 2000.

Barker says the Mamelodi Sundowns factor also cannot be ignored in this accomplishment.

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"No, I'm proud I think, a lot of people have maybe criticised our league a bit or undervalued our league so to have the team with the most players from the local league to have got a bronze medal and the way we played I thought we were unlucky not to make the final,” Barker said.

“I just think it shows that our league is a good strong league. Sundowns do well on the continent, they are one of the best, if not the best team on the continent. I think having that many players from Sundowns with the other quality around was a good recipe. Well done to the coach and well done to all the players that represented us and hopefully, we can go on and qualify for the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, Barker didn’t waste any time in fielding Stellies’ only representative at the AFCON – midfielder Jayden Adams – played against SuperSport United on Friday night.

Adams, who played the full 90 minutes, featured in two matches off the bench in Côte d’Ivoire and played a total of 31 minutes in those games.

"Fantastic for us as the club, for Jaden and for the community of Stellenbosch, you know he's from Stellenbosch. He's come through all the ranks, he started training with us as a young sort of 15-year-old and to see him now on the big stage, playing against players that are playing in the biggest leagues in the world is awesome,” Barker added.

“You know, he didn't play that many minutes but the minutes he played I think he was effective and done what he needed to do. So, yeah, hopefully, he can stay in the Bafana squad, in years to come I think he's got a big role to play. Great experience for him and I know that he's learnt a lot."