Teko Modise: Players want to play for Bafana Bafana again

Teko Modise: Players want to play for Bafana Bafana again

Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Teko Modise believes the national team's showing at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has restored players' desire to represent their country.

Modise was reflecting on Bafana's success in Cote d'Ivoire, where thety narrowly missed out on a first final appearance since 1998, losing to Nigeria in the semi-finals before earning a bronze medal – a first for the team in nearly two-and-a-half decades.

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'Dona', as the 41-year-old is affectionately known, believes that experience put Hugo Broos' charges in good stead in the current 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with players wanting another taste of success in the national team.

"I think everybody wants to see Bafana Bafana in the World Cup without hosting [it], so we want to really qualify and be part of the World Cup," said Modise.

"And I think we needed such performances at AFCON to have some sort of a taste of success, because the last time we actually really spoke about the national team being successful was in 1996.

"Now we speak of Themba Zwane's and [Teboho] Mokoena's that did so well at AFCON and came third, so once you have that taste as a Bafana player, it creates an interest again for players to try and play for the team because nobody wanted to play for Bafana anymore. 

"I think, with that excitement, you can only play better and you can only start having goals of wanting to actually play in the World Cup."

The former Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns star also stresses the importance of playing the continental big guns more frequently, in order to maintain the competitive edge and pedigree they gained at AFCON.

"The truth of the matter is we have to play those big guns – your Senegals, your top five, we need to play [against] them, and we are top three now, according to AFCON," he added.

"So we need to play as such, we need to think as such. The arrogance is for us to remind them that we are the number-three best team on the continent.

"We shouldn't be playing friendlies against Swaziland [Eswatini] and Mozambique, we shouldn't be. Honestly, we shouldn't be, and it's no disrespect in that regard. 

"But if we're saying we're in the top five, tell me when do you see Egypt, Senegal or Nigeria playing a friendly with Lesotho and Mozambique? We're the only ones, and we're saying we want to be top five.

"For us to be able to beat those top five, we need to play [against] them regularly. The reason why Bafana did well – 80 per cent were players playing in continental football, which are Sundowns players."

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