Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams says the team took early criticism from the fans on the chin and is happy that the squad has responded positively from the early slow start to the tournament.
Speaking to the members of the media at the pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday's blockbuster match against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, the Bafana Bafana shot-stopper said the team's sluggish start was mainly due to inadequate preparations leading up the start of the competition.
He said finally all things were starting to get together now and the match against Nigeria would be another stern test for the Bafana Bafana team.
Williams has so far been one of the stars of the tournament and solid between the poles. He is expected to have another busy night on Wednesday, something the Premier Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year said he was relishing.
"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," he said in reference to Saturday's shock win over hosts Egypt which has left pundits stunned by the turnaround and has set up a finely poised clash with Nigeria.
"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."
Williams who has hardly made any slip up and is growing in confidence by each game said criticism, especially constructive one is welcome.
"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," added Williams
He laughed off suggestions that Wednesday's match against Nigeria will lack the electric atmosphere as most fans will stay away following the hosts elimination.
"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.