The group stage of the Afcon tournament has already provided a few surprises.
South Africa finished third in their group and qualified for the Round of the last 16.
The host country Egypt will be the next opponent.
We talked to Young Bafana talent Nahum Rubain (11 years) about the performance of South Africa and his favourites to win the title.
Nahum, the South African national team has scrapped through the Afcon group stage. How do you rate the performance of the players?
I think the team can play better than they showed in the first games. We held up well in the first game against Ivory Coast but lost in the end. We won against Namibia and scored a nice header, but even there we could have presented ourselves better and had to take advantage of several of our chances. South Africa should have won more clearly against a country like Namibia.
And South Africa lost against Morocco in the last group game ...
Yes, the game was very difficult and the pressure was great. Morocco has a strong team that works very hard. We were not able to create many chances to score against them. We just made one goal in three group games.
What went wrong for South Africa?
The defence was very good, but we have weaknesses in the offensive. Unfortunately, if you score so few goals, that's not enough to keep up with the top nations. We need to improve our combinations if we want to have a chance in the next match against Egypt.
Who is your favourite for the Afcon title after the first games?
The host country Egypt has the best chance in my view. They won all three group games and showed that they can combine very well. The passing game is very strong. But they can’t rely only on Mohamed Salah. They have to act as a team. For example, they have other good players like Mohamed Elneny. They could take the title in their own country. So it will be a challenging next game for Bafana Bafana. But there are several countries that have very good players in the squad. It will be exciting.
Can South Africa play a big role in big tournaments in the future?
Yes, we definitely have some good players. Percy Tau is a very good attacker who will be able to shoot goals in many tournaments for South Africa in the next few years. With Itumuleng Khune we have a strong and experienced goalkeeper who can also help the young players. The team definitely has potential.
Can you imagine an African nation winning a World Cup in the next 20 or 30 years?
Yes, why not? We have many good talents on the continent. The development of young players must, of course, be improved. When that happens, African players will increasingly be able to play for the big clubs in Europe as well. That would benefit football in Africa. Maybe then it can also create a country to come far at a World Cup and to play for the title. Of course, I would be happy if South Africa could manage to be one of the best African nations in the long term.
Thank you, Nahum!