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New Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos envisions a younger team

New Bafana coach Hugo Broos. (Photo: EPA / PETER POWELL)

After weeks of speculation and postponements, Bafana Bafana finally have a new coach – Belgian Hugo Broos. Who is he and what will he bring to South African football?

In his first interaction with South African media and, by extension, the public, new Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos hit all the right notes.

The former Cameroon coach was announced by the South African Football Association (Safa) as the replacement to Molefi Ntseki, who was fired in March after Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Cameroon.

Ntseki’s successor says that after this latest disappointment for South African football, there is an opportunity to plant new seeds in the Bafana Bafana garden. The Belgian says one of his main targets will be building a more youthful Bafana side.

“With the information I have received and analysis I made in the last few weeks, I think it’s the moment to build a new team in South Africa‚” Broos told journalists via Zoom.

“I was a little bit surprised when I saw in the selections of the last games that there were a number of players who were 30 or more. So, I think we have to rebuild the team. 

“Why a younger team? If you take the example of Cameroon… I did the same there. When you work with young players, they are motivated and hungry to show something,” the 69-year-old added.

“So, after South Africa did not qualify for the Afcon, this is the moment to start to rebuild a younger team – which may have some difficulties to qualify for the next World Cup – but will be ready maybe to play an important role one year later in Afcon.”

With him being handed a five-year contract, it seems Safa believes he can bring to South Africa the same magic that saw him lead Cameroon to Afcon glory in 2017.

Who is Hugo Broos?

The 69-year-old played as a defender for two of Belgium’s biggest clubs – RSC Anderlecht and Club Brugge. The new Bafana mentor made more than 500 appearances across both those spells. He also earned 24 caps for the national team in a playing career that spanned almost two decades.

The defender then hung up his boots in 1988 for a place in the dugout. From there he has coached Brugge, Anderlecht, KRC Genk and Zulte Waregem in his native Belgium. 

His spell with Brugge is his most successful as a coach to date. During his six-year-stint he won the Belgian league twice, in 1992 and 1996. He was also twice victorious in the Belgian Cup, as well as winning the Belgian Super Cup on four occasions.

Outside of Belgium he has coached Trabzonspor in Turkey, Panserraikos in Greece, as well as JS Kabylie and NA Hussein Dey in Algeria.

His only other international coaching job saw him lead Cameroon to the Afcon in 2017, where they beat Egypt to claim the fifth African title in their history.

This CV is what has convinced the association that Broos can be the man to finally arrest Bafana’s rotten run in international football.

The Belgian faces the unenviable task of trying to lead South Africa to their first Fifa World Cup qualification since 2002. They missed out in 2006, 2014 and 2018. In 2010 they made the cut by virtue of being the hosts.

“We needed someone who is ready, who knows the arena. Because we had to look at the short time of going to the qualifiers, and we needed someone who is ready and knows the experience [of running a national team],” said Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.

Of course, Broos lost his job in Cameroon 10 months after the Afcon triumph. This came after the nation’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Indomitable Lions finished third in their qualifying group for the global showpiece, six points behind eventual qualifiers Nigeria. Broos will be hoping for a bit more success in that aspect in this new job.

It won’t be easy though. Bafana are in a group with 2010 World Cup finalists Ghana and Zimbabwe – who, unlike Bafana, will be heading to Cameroon next year. Ethiopia completes the group.

The other candidates

A number of names had been linked to the job since Ntseki’s dismissal. These included the man who was at the helm when the national team last qualified for a World Cup, Carlos Queiroz.

The Portuguese reportedly rejected advances from Safa, as did another candidate who was earmarked by the association’s technical committee – former Zambian coach Hervé Renard. The reality was that Safa could not afford either.

Pitso Mosimane’s name was also said to be in the bag.

Bafana’s all-time leading goal scorer, Benni McCarthy, was then reported to be the leading candidate before the unveiling of Broos.

However, Daily Maverick understands Safa were not willing to meet some of his personal demands, which reportedly included him bringing along the members of his technical team who have been so instrumental to his success since he took over the reins at AmaZulu in December 2020.

There was also the small matter of McCarthy’s contract, and Safa having to compensate AmaZulu had they managed to prize him away from Usuthu. The 43-year-old penned a 2½-year deal upon his arrival.

Asked about these candidates during the presentation of the new coach, Safa president Danny Jordaan poured cold water on the matter.

“We don’t know of such negotiations. This is the first time that we have announced the coach. And it’s gone through the process. It only happened today. So, there’s no other negotiations,” stated Jordaan.

“The other names, of course every day there was a different name, didn’t come from the National Executive Committee of Safa.”

Broos is still in Belgium and is poised to land in South Africa next week. He will be expected to hit the ground sprinting faster than Usain Bolt. DM

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