Bafana Bafana defender Grant Kekana says they need to take the positives of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations ahead of their upcoming challenges.
The 2025 AFCON and 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are on the horizon this year and Hugo Broos’ is likely to lead them beyond the continental showpiece in Ivory Coast.
Kekana was one of the standout players since being introduced into the starting eleven alongside Mothobi Mvala and in the clash against Nigeria, was lauded for ‘taking one for the team’ when Terem Moffi went clean through on goal and was hacked down by Kekana.
Ultimately, it led to the Super Eagles still winning the game 4-2 on penalties, but the Mamelodi Sundowns man says it was a pleasure to test themselves against Africa’s elite.
“We can be proud of our efforts [against Nigeria], we gave it our all, and you know penalty shootouts are a lottery and credit to them, they played a good game, we wish them well in the final,” Kekana tells iDiski Times.
“It happens sometimes in football, I’m just lost for words… I’m disappointed [not to be in the final] I think as a team. We can learn from this whole experience, we all wanted to be here, to play against the best players in Africa at AFCON.
“We gave a good show, and we can be proud of our efforts, disappointing not to be in the final but we learn from these games and can only come back stronger.
“We need to step it up and not rest on our laurels, we had a good tournament, we gonna take a lot of lessons from this tournament and hopefully it proves us going forward.”
South Africa take on DR Congo in the bronze medal clash on Saturday evening in Abidjan at 22h00.