‘Broosed’, not broken – Bafana boss talks up valuable lessons from World Cup qualifying blow
South Africa kick off their quest next Thursday to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2019. First up are highly ranked Morocco.
Bafana Bafana begin their quest to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) against Morocco in just under a week. Results in this endeavour over the next few months will be crucial for Hugo Broos and his men to sway public opinion on the team’s capabilities.
Broos is hopeful that the team’s experience from barely missing out on reaching the playoffs – the final stage in African qualifying for the World Cup – has strengthened them.
“I said already before the qualifiers for the World Cup that if we don’t qualify for that event, it will be a very good experience for those young players. We had players who played their first Bafana Bafana games. Now they’ve had the opportunity to play six games. They learnt a lot from that. You have to start somewhere,” the Belgian coach told journalists recently.
The 70-year-old also used the platform to address his detractors following criticism after the team’s failure to progress to the final stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Broos said the time he had to assemble a side in the lead-up to the qualifiers, and that he had opted for a mostly youthful and inexperienced group, were contributing factors to missing out.
Despite that disappointing outcome, Broos said he had drawn a number of positives from the experience.
“For me, it was a success. We had a new, young team and from the six games, we won four, drew one and lost the other one. We had 13 points. With a little bit of research, I found that over the past 12 years, in all the qualifiers that South Africa played for [World Cup qualifying], you have never had 13 points. The maximum was 12 points, and that means this was not bad what we did,” he said.
Indeed, Bafana’s haul of 13 points was the highest they had managed since accumulating 16 in a successful 2002 World Cup qualification push, as well as their failed bid to qualify for the 2006 showpiece in Germany where they finished with 16 points from 10 games.
Now the team will have to apply the lessons that Broos claims they have learnt over the past few months when they clash with an African powerhouse, the Qatar-bound Morocco.
The match will take place at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in the coastal city of Rabat on Thursday, 9 June.
South Africa was also set to take on southern African neighbours Zimbabwe during this international window, but the latter were removed from Group K after being slapped with a ban for political interference by world football’s custodian, Fifa.
This means that to guarantee their successful qualification, Bafana Bafana will likely have to claim maximum points home and away to minnows Liberia, while avoiding defeat in at least one of their matches against group favourites Morocco. DM
Bafana Bafana squad
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs).
Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sekhukhune United), Khuliso Mudau, Grant Kekana, Lyle Lakay, (all Mamelodi Sundowns), Bandile Shandu, Innocent Maela (both Orlando Pirates), Thibang Phete (Belenenses, Portugal), Taariq Fielies, Terrence Mashego (both Cape Town City).
Midfielders: Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal), Goodman Mosele (Orlando Pirates), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune United), Phathutshedzo Nange (Kaizer Chiefs).
Forwards: Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka), Khanyisa Mayo (Cape Town City), Fagrie Lakay (Pyramids, Egypt), Lyle Foster (Westerlo, Belgium), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Minnesota, USA), Percy Tau (Al Ahly, Egypt).