By Izuchukwu Okosi

South Africa goalkeeper Ronwen Williams has stated unequivocally that the Bafana Bafana have turned a corner from their poor start to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and expects a difficult game against Nigeria in Wednesday’s quarterfinals clash in Cairo.

Williams who had a superlative performance in South Africa’s Round of 16 victory over hosts Egypt spoke to the media at Tuesday’s press conference ahead of the Nigeria match.

“Our performance in the opening first few games were not up to standard. We knew we could play better and we were getting a lot of flak and stick back home,” Williams reflected.

“So (in that win over Egypt) we were just basically reminding them (fans back home) to believe in the team because we didn’t come here to perform badly.

“We work hard every day but things were a bit tough in the Group Stages but we just needed to remind them to stick together as a nation, support us through thick and thin.

 “You never know in football, be there and support us at all times,” his latter lines ominously referring to the Nigeria game.

”Positive criticism is always acceptable, the positive criticism we got we took it with the pinch of salt and we moved on and we proved to everyone that we are here to do our job as best as possible.

”We had a slow start, our preparations were not the best and the further we go, the better we can become. The confidence is growing; I think the coach has found the right balance. 

“We have been working hard to improve our weaknesses and we knew from beginning that we could get better. In the beginning, we didn’t create a lot chances but we were solid defensively but the last game we were positive on the offensive and we can only get better as the tournament progresses”Williams stated.

Williams said the defeat of Egypt by the 1996 winners of AFCON could pay dividends when  his team square off with Nigeria who failed to defend their AFCON title won in 1994 due to political tensions between both nations.

”The Saturday atmosphere was nice and it is always great to play in such atmosphere but for me as a keeper, it is not negative. It just means my back four will hear me better. My voice will have a bit of a break because I don’t have to shout louder,” he said with a smile.

The Nigeria versus South Africa game kicks off 8pm Nigerian time on Wednesday.

P.S: This story was first published on All Nigeria Soccer