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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Bafana Bafana defender Buhle Mkhwanazi urges teammates to remain level-headed

12:50 GMT+3 07/07/2019
Buhle Mkhwanazi, South Africa, October 2018
The experienced player explained that they are taking it one game at a time as they look to clinch Bafana's second Afcon title

South African defender Buhle Mkhwanazi says they were confident of beating Egypt in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Round of 16 match on Saturday night.

The Bidvest Wits centre-back stated that their approach was the same as the one they applied against Morocco in their final Group D match which they lost 1-0 on Monday.

“I think they are both the same, [difference between the last game and this one], we applied the same mentality and tactics it’s just that we could not score against Morocco and they scored late hence they won the game,” Mkhwanazi told the media.

Mkhwanazi was one of the players that rose to the occasion as they stunned the Pharaohs via a 1-0 scoreline through Thembinkosi Lorch’s goal in the second half.

After a lackluster start in the group stages, the 1996 African champions managed to reach the knockout stages as they finished as one of the best third-place finishers.

However, the Bloemfontein-born defender opted to remain humble to downplay their title hopes, stating that they will take it one game at a time

“Yeah from the word go, we were confident about winning this match. To be honest, we will see as it goes [I can't say we will win the tournament]. We’ll take it one game at a time," concluded the 29-year-old.

Together with their coach Stuart Baxter, the South Africans having been criticized after recording a single win over Namibia and registering two defeats to Cote d'Ivoire and Morocco in the group stages, they managed to revive their continental status by beating the hosts.

In addition, they will now face the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the quarter-finals on Wednesday at the iconic Cairo International Stadium as they look to reach the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Baxter will call upon the likes of Mkhwanazi and skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo to command the penalty area as they will face Nigeria's lethal attackers Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa.

The clash against coach Gernot Rohr’s men comes after the two sides met during the Afcon qualifiers where Bafana secured a 2-0 win in Nigeria and played to a 1-1 draw in Johannesburg.