Stellenbosch Football Club

Adams reveals pride at AFCON experience

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Jayden Adams has revealed his immense pride at having represented his country, his community, and his club at the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

Stellenbosch FC midfielder Jayden Adams was part of South Africa’s 23-man squad that went on to win the bronze medal at the recently concluded CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ivory Coast.

The 22-year-old made two appearances on the continent’s grandest stage as Bafana Bafana’s campaign ended with a podium finish following a dramatic penalty-shootout win over DR Congo in the third-place play-off earlier this month.

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“If I’m not mistaken, I am the first person from Stellenbosch to have played at the Africa Cup of Nations so I am very proud to have helped the team win the bronze medal,” Adams said.

“I had a good first half of the season with Stellenbosch FC so to be rewarded with a spot in South Africa’s squad was incredible, and it was special for me to be able to represent my country, my community, and my club at the tournament.

“Winning the bronze medal on top of that was probably the biggest achievement of my career. Of course, I won the Carling Knockout with Stellenbosch and that was huge, but some of the game’s best players have played at AFCON so to win bronze was massive for me and for the country as a whole.”

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South Africa’s third-place finish in Ivory Coast was the country’s best finish at an Africa Cup of Nations in 24 years since Bafana Bafana ended in the same position in 2000, an achievement that Adams reveals he is proud to have played a part in.

“It’s very special knowing that I was part of this group,” he says.

“People didn’t expect us to go through to the knockout stages after we lost the first match, but we took it game by game, worked hard, and when we won the second game, we could feel the country get behind us. That was massive for us.

Football 2023 Africa Cup Of Nations Finals Cape Verde V South Africa Charles Konan Stadium Yamoussoukro Cote Divoire

“In my first match against Namibia, I only played a few minutes but the experience of just being able to run onto that field and represent my country and Stellenbosch was a massive moment for me.

“Then against Cape Verde, with the game at the stage it was at, there was a lot going on in my mind when I came on but the players around me helped me a lot. They just told me to play my game because they believed in what I could contribute, and I was glad that I was able to do that.

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“Throughout the tournament, there was an incredibly strong brotherhood within the camp and I learned a lot from the experienced players. The skipper, Ronwen Williams encouraged me a lot, everyone did, but he especially showed a lot of belief in me and I’m grateful for that.”

South Africa will next turn their attention to qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and Adams is keen to ensure that his performances back home with Stellies earn him another call-up to the camp for the qualifying matches.

“Of course, I want to help South Africa qualify for the World Cup but I just need to work hard first. My priority is now back with Stellenbosch FC and doing my job here to the best of my ability, and then hopefully I will be part of the next camp again.”