Sport

COACHING COMMITMENT

‘It’s just rumours’ — Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos defers exit speculation

‘It’s just rumours’ — Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos defers exit speculation
Bafana head coach Hugo Broos. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images)

Ahead of Bafana Bafana’s first couple of fixtures since the Africa Cup of Nations, their head coach, Hugo Broos, said he was still committed to South Africa.

Bafana Bafana are set to compete in their first matches since a memorable Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) display where they reached the semifinal phase of the continental showpiece for the first time in almost three decades.

They face Andorra and Algeria in the latest Fifa showpiece. In the build-up to the matches, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos cooled talk of his departure from South Africa.

The 71-year-old Belgian has been linked with numerous other jobs since leading South Africa to just their fourth Afcon medal. Bafana Bafana secured bronze at the Ivory Coast-hosted Afcon (held in January/February), adding to the gold, silver and bronze medals they won between 1996 and 2000 at the biennial event.

One of the roles that Broos has been linked with is that of technical director at one of the biggest clubs in his homeland — Club Brugge.

“About Brugge … I only know that I’m a candidate. There is nothing more and nothing less than that. I know that in the Belgian media they spoke about it. But there is nothing for the moment. Nothing at all,” Broos said at a media conference.

“I said after Afcon that if you have such performances with a team, then automatically there is interest in you as a coach. I heard rumours that Algeria was interested, that Tunisia was interested and some other teams. Also, Brugge now.

“But there are no negotiations. I haven’t seen the people of Brugge. I only know that I’m on their list as one of the candidates. Let’s see what happens in the future. I have always said I have a contract until 2026 with South Africa.

“So, if there’ll be a moment that maybe I can leave or want to leave South Africa, I still have to negotiate with the people of Safa [South African Football Association]. For the moment, it’s just rumours and nothing more.”  

Task at hand

South Africa is part of Fifa’s latest attempt to make international football more enterprising. Bafana Bafana will play European minnows Andorra on Thursday, 21 March, and take on 2019 Afcon champions Algeria five days later. 

Dubbed the “Fifa Series”, these friendly matches will be contested every March of an even year by national teams from different confederations who do not normally have the opportunity to play each other.

For the pilot edition, Algeria is one of the countries that has been picked to host. It will welcome Bafana Bafana, along with Andorra and Bolivia. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka are also hosts. 

Important friendlies

Broos said he was not sure how the game against Andorra would be for his team, especially as it had taken about 30 hours for the team to arrive at their destination in Algeria after leaving South Africa on Sunday.  

“Andorra … is not a top team in Europe. Far from that. They always lose their games. But it’s usually with 1-0 or 2-1. [Nevertheless], it will be tough. It’s a different style as well. It’ll be an opportunity to give a chance to new players,” Broos said.

“Because we’ve already started to look for new players for the 2026 World Cup. [There are current players] we might have to replace for that tournament.

“It’s very important to build on what we achieved at Afcon. We can’t be in third place [at Afcon] and move to 10th in the African rankings [as a result] … then in two or three months, we fall back to number 13. We have to go on.

“We need results to try to have a better place in the rankings. maybe rise to number eight or number seven. That means friendly games are important. So, we will try to have good results in both games, in order to win some ranking points and have a better position.”

Broos also provided a vague update on Lyle Foster’s situation. The Burnley striker missed Afcon owing to mental health issues that required him to stay at his English Premier League club for the duration of the continental showpiece.

The Bafana Bafana mentor said he would reach out to his compatriot and Burnley boss Vincent Kompany, as well as Foster, to ascertain where the sharpshooter is on his journey to recovery, with two key World Cup qualifiers coming up for Bafana in June. DM

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