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Can Bafana pull off a ‘Portugal’ at AFCON 2019?

After Bafana Bafana scrapped through to the knockout stages of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Tuesday, could they now emulate Portugal who went on to win Euro 2016 after a similar sluggish start?

Stuart Baxter’s side wrestled through to the knockout stages of the tournament by finishing as the fourth (and last) best third-placed team thanks to a superior goal difference of (three goals) over Kenya.

Bafana Bafana put in some dire performances in the group stages and became the only side of the tournament to fail to register a shot on target in two of their three Group D games.

Baxter’s charges finished third in the group on three points behind the Ivory Coast (six) and group winners Morocco (nine), who maintained a 100% win record.

Similarly, at Euro 2016 Portugal finished third in Group F – behind Iceland and group winners Hungary – after recording three draws from their three matches played.

Portugal managed to scrape through to the knockout stages thanks to a second half brace by captain Cristiano Ronaldo to twice draw level in the 50th and 67th minute against Hungary in their final group match.

The Portuguese moved into the knockout stages as the third (out of four) best third-placed teams.

Inspired by talisman Ronaldo, Portugal then went on an astonishing run to the final after beating Croatia (last 16) Poland (quarter-finals) and Wales (semi-finals) to set up a meeting with favourites and hosts, France.

After Ronaldo was forced off through injury early in the game, Portugal rallied with Eder scoring in the 109th minute of extra-time to hand his side their first ever major trophy.

However, there is a slight difference between Bafana Bafana and Portugal.

They possess arguably the greatest ever player to lace a pair of soccer boots alongside a host of other world-class players, whereas Bafana Bafana have Percy Tau and a few others who play in the lower leagues of European football. -Sports24