Bafana Bafana return from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) in Egypt downtrodden, following a cruel exit to the tournament, but can still hold their heads high given their valiant performances in the knockout stages.
Knocked out in the quarterfinals by Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Bafana started slowly in the competition, but gained momentum when it mattered – stunning the hosts in the Round of 16 for what has been one of the tournament’s biggest upsets.
It was a solid collective effort, but a few individual players stood out from the rest, and will have done their reputation no harm with their displays throughout.
Ronwen Williams – goalkeeper
Ronwen Williams’ tournament may be tainted by the error which saw Bafana crash out of the tournament, but it’s undeniable that he had a great outing in his first extended run as a first-choice option in national colours.
The PSL Goalkeeper of the Season was a shock inclusion in the opener against Ivory Coast – picked ahead of Darren Keet, who’s always been ahead of him in the pecking order.
However, the Supersport United shot-stopper proved his mettle from the get-go, pulling spectacular saves to keep Bafana in the game.
He was solid throughout the tournament, despite a solitary clean sheet.
Bongani Zungu – midfielder
There has never been any doubt about Zungu’s talent and, in Egypt, he showcased that he can take his game to the next level.
Brought back into the national setup after a lengthy injury lay-off, the Amiens midfielder was a classy presence in the middle of the park, and finished the competition with two of Bafana’s three goals.
Percy Tau – forward
Percy Tau went into the tournament as South Africa’s star attraction, after a quiet start, sprung into his own when it really mattered.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns man starred in the shock win over Egypt, and was again a menacing presence to the Nigerian defence.
Thembinkosi Lorch – forward
It took a suspension to Themba Zwane for the PSL Player of the Season to finally get his opportunity, and he grabbed with both hands.
Lorch produced a man of the match performance in his first start of the tournament, which was capped by the memorable goal in the Round of 16, and put on another solid display against Nigeria before being substituted.
Sifiso Hlanti – defender
The Bidvest Wits fullback has a reputation of producing the odd defensive lapse in concentration, but he did not falter when pitted against the biggest name he’s probably faced in his career – Egypt’s Mo Salah.
Dean Furman – midfielder
Ever a tireless workhorse, Dean Furman had a forgettable game in the defeat to the Ivory Coast, where he also picked up a knock, but dusted himself up on his return to usher the midfield.