Bafana Bafana are eager to regain their bruised confidence

Cape Town – The heartbreak of failing to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup after a controversial penalty decision in their loss to Ghana last November has resulted in confidence levels in the Bafana Bafana squad plummet.

Since then, the team returned to action for two friendlies and a 2023 Africa Cup on Nations group stage qualifier, but have not been on the winning side again.

It is a situation that can change over the next few days, according to Bafana captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

South Africa, world ranked 68th, will play Sierra Leone (113th) on Saturday and Botswana (146th) next Tuesday. Both matches will be played at FNB Stadium.

The world rankings of Bafana’s opponents suggest that the South Africans should end up victors on both occasions, but Williams cautioned against taking results for granted.

“We need to regain our confidence, but it’s not a given that we will do this against either Botswana or Sierra Leone,” said Williams.

“On the African continent there are no easy opponents so we will give our all. It’s about putting our best foot forward.”

Williams’ stay in the national team camp was slightly different over the past few days although he has been in the squad many times since 2014. This time he joined the national team squad as a Mamelodi Sundowns representative rather than a goalkeeper at SuperSport United where he spent 18 years.

“I have just transitioned from one team to another,” said Williams. ”Nothing much has changed except where I now play, but it doesn’t feel

like a massive shift.

“I know the players. I have interacted with them. I played with them and sometimes against them, but football is still at the heart of it all.

“One glaring thing, however, in my 10 games with my new club is having to come up against my former team (in domestic competitions). It was a different feeling, but it was business.”

The confidence levels is something that also concerns national coach Hugo Broos who said it was important to get the team back to winning ways.

“It is often in losses against great teams where the most valuable lessons are learned, but then again you can’t always be learning the lessons and not winning,” said Broos.

“Everyone loves a winning team and we’re a great team and we want to win.

“We saw what happened and how we lost to Ghana after winning almost all the matches.

“We also lost to France and people did not mention that they are the world champions. We must not underestimate Sierra Leone and Botswana because we must regain our confidence.

“People believed in the team during the World Cup qualifiers, but that has now disappeared and there is more criticism. We must bring back the confidence. It is time to have victories and it is the goal of these two friendly matches.”

Broos has been taken by surprise at the number of injured strikers in the squad, and Kaizer Chiefs marksman Ashley Du Preez has been called.

The “walking wounded” list includes Percy Tau, Lindokuhle Hlongwane, Fagrie Lakay, Evidence Makgopa and Lyle Foster.

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