South Africa setting sights to reach the summit again

Photo: Supplied

South Africa produced a dominant performance against Cameroon in their second match at the ANSA African Nations Cup 2019. 

For captain Conall Tayler, the win was a positive bounce back after a tight opening 1-1 draw with Tanzania. 

“It was a tricky first game to start with but one we had the opportunities to win comfortably,” Tayler recalled. 

“The promising thing was that we created a lot of clear chances.  Unfortunately, we did not have our shooting boots on in front of goal which cost us a vital 3 points.” 

This time around, against a team admittedly still looking to find their feet in the tournament, Tayler’s side capitalised on the strong chances they created. 

Finishing chances,, as well as the overall team formation, was one of the areas Tayler and coach Liam Lawler were aiming to address following their Tanzania encounter. 

“Our overall shape is something we take very seriously. We play a distinct formation with clearly defined roles for each player.”

“Our team is built on this and it is something that has brought us success over the years playing in this tournament.” 

Former winners, South Africa are one of the staples of the African Cup and Tayler himself is a familiar face.  Having pulled on the boots since 2001, the African Cup is a tournament close to his heart for the ability to express and celebrate his roots. 

“As a born and bred South African, nothing makes me prouder than representing my country of birth, every year, at this tournament,” he said. 

“I would like to say how brilliant it is to see this tournament grow year on year. This year’s edition looks extremely exciting especially with the adoption of the online content and registration process.”

“I would like to commend everyone involved and challenge all to keep striving to bringing the African community closer together.”

As one of the veterans of the team, Tayler has taken it upon himself to help bring through the next generation alongside head coach Lawler. 

He is hoping to pass on his passion to the teens coming up in the squad including the likes of Tayden Davis, Kishon Steyn and Cuan Ellis. 

So far that plan appears to be going well with some promising performances early in the tournament. 

“I have been playing in this tournament since 2001 and lived every minute but the truth is us older players can’t stay around forever!” Tayler said.  “We are in the process of blooding some youth back into the team for the future”

“Tayden, still only 18, made his debut coming on and putting in a very mature performance. Our hope is that players like Tayden, Kishon and Cuan can be the future of this South African team by gaining valuable experience now. “ 

With the veteran heads anchoring the defence and the exciting forward talent, Tayler and Lawler are hoping this will be a recipe for the South Africans to lift the trophy once again. 

“Our goal is always to win the tournament no matter what! We don’t come here to participate. The key to our success is the exact same every year.”

“Discipline, structure, execution of tactics and experience. We probably have one of the most experienced squads, with many players still playing from our 2014 African Nations triumph.”

South Africa claiming the title in 2014 (Photo: Supplied)

“We are a team that builds momentum and confidence the more we play. Our whole game plan is built on a solid foundation from the back, where we have vast experience.”

“If our defensive structure is right, we will be extremely hard to break down because of the experience we have there. Our execution in front of goal is then key to our success.”

For now, Tayler and South Africa are currently sitting second in Group C and feel in comfortable position to make an assault for the title and has a caution for the rest of the competition. 

“Many teams underrate us, but we have a proud history in this competition,” Tayler stated. 

“Take us lightly at your own peril. You have been warned.”

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