Delay in World Cup qualifiers gives new Bafana boss Broos a boost

The president of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) Gianni Infantino (L), CAF president Patrice Motsepe and former soccer player Didier Drogba (R) arrive to the launch of the Pan-African interschool championship in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 04 May 2021. FIFA President Infantino and the CAF President Motsepe are in Abidjan for a working visit. EPA-EFE/LEGNAN KOULA

A day after his appointment, new Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos was given a timely boost with the Fifa World Cup qualifiers being postponed by three months due to Covid-19.

Broos’s inadvertent reprieve came after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) officially announced that the World Cup qualifiers, initially scheduled to begin in a month, will kick off in September.

This gives the Belgian the perfect opportunity to study the players available to him, including the group that will travel to represent South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics.

Broos has already said he is looking to freshen up the current crop and bring in some younger faces.

“The CAF Emergency Committee, in consultation with Fifa, decided to postpone the CAF qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 that were due to be played in June 2021, after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams,” CAF said.

“The qualifiers will now take place in the existing windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022.”

The reason for the postponement centres on the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions that come with it. 

CAF is also seeking to implement a smoother system around player testing before these games. 

“CAF is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-19-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing, which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows,” the mother body of African football explained.

Finer details and dates for the revised schedule would be revealed once finalised.

Broos has promised that he will do his best to ensure South Africa qualifies for Qatar 2022 – although he did warn against having high expectations so soon after the disappointment of missing out on the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations. 

“We will do everything to qualify for the World Cup next year. But it can be a deception if we don’t‚ because when you are starting to rebuild a team it needs time,” said the 69-year-old. DM


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