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Africa Cup of Nations

EXCLUSIVE: Jackson: Bafana Bafana have to restore national pride in Afcon 2019

12:51 BST 23/06/2019
Libya v South Africa March 2019
The retired defender has motivated the 1996 African champions to produce a positive result against the Elephants

Former Bafana Bafana defender Willem Jackson believes coach Stuart Baxter's team has the capacity to get a positive result against Cote d’Ivoire in their 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) opener on Monday.

The former centre-back who was part of the squad that faced the Elephants in a 1-1 draw in 1998, says Bafana must avoid a defeat to motivate the nation.

“I think for Bafana, they must play for a draw because that will motivate the guys and the nation back home. We all know what has happened with the junior national teams and our women’s team at the World Cup,” Jackson told Goal.

“I think many people are very negative now towards our national teams, we see people lashing out at the cricket squad. I cannot say we have negative people but most of them are,” he said.

“That is why it becomes important for Bafana to go for a positive result like a draw, a win will be a bonus and a loss will definitely put more pressure on the coach and the guys. Getting a draw means we can build our momentum going to the next one and that can make things easy when it comes to our confidence,” added the legend.

“Based on my observation so far, there are no easy games and everyone wants to win the first game and losing means more pressure. I believe Bafana have what it takes to get a good result against Ivory Coast,” said the Highlands Park youth coach.

On his thoughts on the star-studded Elephants squad that has a number of overseas-based players, the former Orlando Pirates defender said the game gives Bafana players a chance to measure their quality and progress.

“Ivory Coast is not a small team, they play good football and they have loads of experience at such tournaments. Take nothing from our boys, but I think it will not be an easy encounter,” continued the former Bloemfontein Celtic defender.

“All the teams want to win the Afcon tournament and I have seen the games so far, it’s not easy to say so and so will win, I think Bafana will do the right things,” he added.

“They have a lot of players coming from top European leagues and that means they are experienced, but we need to see this as a positive for us,” he added.

“Our boys must go there and learn, measure themselves and compete against the players from top leagues. I think that’s a motivating factor on its own,” said the former Platinum Stars assistant coach.

“I fully believe we can get a positive result, our players just need to be positive and do the right things, get the ball, ensure the movements are correct, work for each other and get that ball in the net and shut the back door,” he noted.

“In the end, it’s all about 11 versus 11 on the field of play. I believe they can make us proud because avoiding a loss in the opening game is very crucial in a tournament such as the Afcon,” he concluded.