Former Bafana Bafana winger Siphiwe Tshabalala is confident of a strong performance during next year’s Africa Cup of Nations. 

South Africa have been pooled with Tunisia, Mali and Namibia for the 2024 AFCON. The first fixture will be against Mali on 16 January.

“When you playing for the national team, you don’t represent only your team or family, you are an ambassador for the country and it’s important that you perform and do your best all the time,” said Tshabalala.

“We need to rally behind them and they must also show consistency as well, as we have to go to a tournament where the best players will be playing. It’s every footballer’s dream to represent their country and go to AFCON.”

South Africa are currently contesting FIFA World Cup qualifying fixtures. Last week, they beat Benin 2-1 – and this week will play Rwanda.

“So far it looks like we’re heading into the right direction – slow strides but I see progress,” added Tshbalala.

“We just need to be consistent and have the same mindset when we play the top 10 ranked nations in Africa – and this must apply against teams like Rwanda, Lesotho and Namibia.

“We need to respect opponents, respect in terms of performing well and wanting to improve. We need to win the trust of the nation.”

Senegal are the reigning AFCON champions. Egypt are the most successful country in the history of the tournament with seven titles. 

South Africa have won the competition once – in 1996. They beat Tunisia 2-0 in the final.