Durban – Bafana Bafana square off against Ethiopia in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Saturday.
The South Africans will fancy their chances of winning the game and it is crucial that Hugo Broos’ charges avoid losing if they want to stand a good chance of retaining their place atop Group G and keeping alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
The following are five players who will be key to Broos’ charges.
As one of the few experienced campaigners who are part of Broos’ plans, Xulu’s leadership and defensive abilities are vital to ensuring that the Ethiopians do not penetrate the Bafana goal. The 29-year-old will be required to lead the defence and maintain composure as he did against Ghana and Zimbabwe recently.
2. Ronwen Williams
Bafana Bafana’s captain provides quality between the sticks and guidance to the inexperienced players in the Bafana setup. Without him being on top of his game, there is always a chance that Bafana can lose focus and suffer lapses of concentration which can be extremely harmful to their performances.
3. Bongukuhle Hlongwane
The Maritzburg United player has established himself as Bafana Bafana’s latest attacking star. Bafana have lacked quality in the final third for the past several years and Hlongwane now has an opportunity to truly establish himself as a star for the national team while also auditioning for greener pastures as far as his club home goes. If he can maintain the form he showed in recent games at international level, he will soon be set for a move to one of the big guns in South African football, if not abroad.
4. Sipho Mbule
Mbule has established himself as one of the most promising midfielders in South African football. Like Hlongwane, he will also be set for big things if he can maintain his current level of form. Mbule will also be vital for Bafana against Ethiopia as he will be a link between attack and defence. He will have to be on his toes and communicate well with the likes of Xulu and Hlongwane to ensure that the South Africans have healthy passages of attacking and defensive play.
5. Rushine De Reuck
Bafana’s defenders will need to arguably be more on point than the attackers in this game. A loss will be a huge blow to Bafana Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup while a draw will not mark the end of the world. It is for this reason that De Reuck will surely be tested. While he has attracted a lot of praise for his potential, he now has a chance to truly prove to his doubters that he is capable of playing in the Bafana Bafana defensive midfield for the long term.