South Africa and Cape Verde have a closely contested history in their head-to-head matchups, with Cape Verde’s victories in their last two encounters providing them with a sense of confidence for their forthcoming confrontation. The upcoming quarterfinal match in Yamousosukro will mark their first meeting since Cape Verde’s unexpected triumph over South Africa in Durban in 2017, during the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

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The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has been a whirlwind of surprises, like a tornado sweeping through the soccer field. Each match has been filled with its own unique twists and turns, resembling a rollercoaster ride with unexpected drops and loops.

As we eagerly await the conclusion of the quarter-final stage, all eyes are on the highly anticipated clash between Cape Verde and South Africa on Saturday evening, building up anticipation like a simmering volcano ready to erupt.

Few predicted Cape Verde would navigate through their challenging group like a hot knife through butter, surpassing all expectations. Ranked 77th in the world and attending only their fourth AFCON, they have defied the odds and now find themselves on the edge of a historic achievement, akin to a dream hanging delicately at the tip of reality’s fingertips.

The Blue Sharks, like a fleet of hungry predators, swam fiercely against Mauritania in the last 16, ultimately seizing victory in their first-ever Cup of Nations knockout tie. Their performance was like a captivating symphony, enchanting the hearts of countless neutral fans across the continent.

South Africa’s performance in the AFCON Cup is like a flickering flame, struggling to ignite a fire that once burned brightly. For years, they have been as quiet as a mouse, their presence fading into the background like a shadow in the moonlight. The last time they truly captured attention was in 2000, a memory as distant as a faraway star in the night sky.

Bafana Bafana’s victory over Morocco on Tuesday was as surprising as seeing a shooting star in broad daylight. Despite facing pre-tournament favourites, the team composed mostly of local players showed resilience and determination, like a pack of hungry wolves hunting down their prey. Their recent track record is nothing short of remarkable, scoring six goals in three games without allowing the slightest opening for their opponents, akin to an impenetrable fortress standing tall against any attack.

During Friday’s pre-game media briefing, Bafana head coach Hugo Broos adopted a more subdued approach, emphasising the formidable challenge posed by Cape Verde as an opponent.

“We are not underestimating Cape Verde,” said the Bafana head coach.

“They are not the same team like Morocco, with high-quality players at big teams in Europe, but from what I have seen … they are a team on the pitch, their players are very disciplined, and it is very difficult to play against them.

“Tomorrow we have to achieve our best level again if we want to be in the semifinals.

“It is normal to little by little start dreaming of the final, but it would be a very big mistake to think that after Morocco everything will be easier. If we want to compare that game on Saturday to the game on Tuesday, there is no difference, it will be as tough as Tuesday.

“If you are in a group with Ghana, Egypt and Mozambique and you finish with seven points out of nine I don’t think anyone can say you are a weak team.”

The 71-year-old Belgian coach also discussed the potential of replicating the success of the 1996 team by reaching the final and ultimately winning the championship. Broos expressed his belief that achieving positive outcomes would lead to further success, stating, “I always said that … once you have the results the rest will come.”

He emphasised the significance of the team’s recent accomplishments as a source of motivation for his players, highlighting the prolonged absence of South Africa from semifinals or finals. Broos noted, “It motivates us to do as well as the guys from 1996,” and underscored the natural desire of athletes to achieve greatness.

He also pointed out the players’ evident motivation to accomplish something remarkable, as demonstrated by their reaction in the dressing room following the game against Morocco.

In contrast to Broos’ restrained tone, Cape Verde coach Pedro ‘Bubista’ Brito exuded a strong sense of confidence in his belief that the Blue Sharks can thwart South Africa’s aspirations of securing the 2023 Afcon title.

Bubista confidently declared that his team has prepared thoroughly for the crucial match against Bafana.

“To start, we’re prepared, we’re fit and think we’re all well prepared as we can be to realise victory, we took some rest and all the players are in good shape, we rested,” Bubista said at the pre-match press conference.

“For us to reach the semi-final, we need to work good as a team, united as a team, we can only win if we work together as a team, we have a good mindset in the squad, good morale, we have the support too and because of that we’ll do all we can to bring more joy to the country.”

Bubista confidently brushed off any worries about his team feeling intimidated by South Africa, even after South Africa’s impressive victory over Morocco just a few days ago.

“We’re not scared, we’re not scared at all, there’s no fear, we have the experience to understand it’s a match and of course, we’ve played South Africa before, and defeated them.

“South Africa have beaten us more than once too, so we’re confident of a good match, so no fear if we have a desire to play and show the joy to give more to our people, it will help us,” Bubista stated.

The match kicks off at 10PM.

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