With the Confederation of African Football (Caf) set to conduct the draw for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Egypt on Friday, former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper John Tlale says coach Stuart Baxter’s men can beat any team in the continent.
“Yeah, look immediately after qualifying I am sure they were convinced that they can face and beat anyone because all the strong teams have qualified,” Tlale told Goal.
“I don’t think those that qualified have done it by fluke. They just have to prepare mentally and physically to face any team that comes their way,” he said.
“We always say in order to be the best, you must face and beat top teams. I think the coach is spoiled for choice when it comes to the players,” said the 51-year-old.
“Baxter will have more than a month to plan for his opponents and also get key players such as Bongani Zungu ready for the tournament. They will also have time to fully recover from injuries and so on,” he responded.
“I believe they can do well and I will be pleased if they reach the semi-finals or the final because we have the talent, to be honest,” predicted the former goalkeeper.
“Sundowns players have been tested in the continent. They don’t care about the food, accommodation and all these things, but they are focusing on doing well on the field of play,” he reflected.
Meanwhile, the Southern African giants are looking to improve their Afcon record having struggled since winning the tournament in 1996.
“Yes, we failed to have continuity after winning it in 1996. We reached the final in 1998 and we finished third in the following tournament (2000). They should fight hard, believe in themselves, and anything will be possible,” he backed.
“It’s been a long time and I think we have what it takes. We can reach the semi-finals or the final and I am saying this because we have a talented pool of players that the coach can choose from,” said the retired keeper.
“I am happy the guys qualified without a loss and only conceded twice. I think they will draw inspiration from that record,” he praised.
“I am confident that we have a chance because you will remember we won three league titles at Sundowns by keeping it simple at the back and shutting the back door shut,” continued the Kroonstad-born legend.
“If they continue with same discipline at the back, they have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain especially in the group stages. I will be happy if they reach the final, but it all depends on the guys, how much they want to do well at the tournament,” he concluded.