A new era: All eyes on Hugo Broos and his new Bafana Bafana combo
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JOHANNESBURG - Hugo Broos hasn’t had it easy, but his ability to trust the process has seen him have the last laugh. He proved that with the Cameroonian national team after striking gold at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with a relatively young squad.
After spending the better part of his coaching career at club level, Broos bagged his first international gig with the Indomitable Lions in 2016 – where he rang the changes, replacing senior players, such as captain Samuel Eto’o, with young blood.
Not everyone bought into his vision instantly though, such that they were tipped to merely add up the numbers in Gabon. But
Broos proved that he knew what he was doing, defying the odds as Cameroon claimed the coveted continental crown.
After being sacked as Cameroon coach in 2018, Broos took over the reins as the South African national team coach early this year, replacing Molefi Ntseki who failed to guide the team to next year’s Afcon.
Broos, who wasn’t the favourite for the job and was less fancied than Pitso Mosimane, Benni McCarthy and Carlos Quieroz, has to prove some of his detractors wrong, especially after selecting a youthful squad for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Bafana begin their quest to qualify for the tournament today when they face neighbours Zimbabwe away, before hosting Ghana on Monday. This will be Broos’ first game in charge, having missed the Cosafa Cup and friendly against Uganda.
The 69-year-old coach, who declared that “I like fancy football, that’s my philosophy” upon his arrival in SA, hasn’t had time to watch most of his players live, given the fact that the season has just started.
But he will take confidence from the fact that his players have had full pre-seasons with their clubs, a feat that should enhance their fitness level. Africa, sure, is about grinding out results, but Bafana have to be pleasing on the eye as well.
Under Ntseki, they failed to come out and play, always waiting to catch the opponents on counter-attacks. That’s not Broos’ style, but he did admit that they might need to use that at times. He is all about build-up play.
This will require playing with and without the ball. Broos has ball players such as Percy Tau, Luther Singh and Gift Links in his 24-man squad. The Belgian will know he needs to ensure he tightens up his midfield and defence as well.
Broos is an admirer of attacking football, but his team can’t afford to open pockets of spaces defensively and in the midfield. That could offer ample room for the likes of Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat and Knox Mutizwa to pounce.
The selection of Tau in the squad should be a motivation for him and the team. Tau needs to redeem himself after being subjected to criticism after recently leaving English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion to join Egyptian giants Al Ahly last month.
Tau’s game is not based on physical strength but he makes up for what he lacks in trickery, runs, goals and assists. In Singh, he should find a player who will be able to compliment him. It is these two attackers who Broos may look to start the qualifiers on a high note.
That’s why he believes that he can’t play on individual strengths but on the team’s. Coming up against Zimbabwe shouldn't be a scary sight for Bafana, given the fact that they too have players who ply their trade in the Premiership.
Broos, though, says that they might not get it right from the outset, meaning that Bafana might not be one of the five African teams that will qualify for next year’s World Cup. But he has vowed that they will qualify for 2023 Afcon and 2026 World Cup.