Bafana coach Hugo Broos banks on his calmness to rub off on his young squad
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Johannesburg – Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos is banking on his “calm” demeanour to rub off positively on his relatively youthful squad, especially considering the fact that they are in crunch time in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
After bagging 10 points from their first four matches in Group G so far, the South Africans, mathematically, are four points away from reaching the last round of the qualifiers. But they’ll need to be at their best in order to get those points.
In the penultimate round of the qualifiers, the South Africans will host regional arch-rivals Zimbabwe at home, FNB Stadium, tomorrow night. And this is a game that could all but grant them three points of the four they need to top Group G.
Most of the Zimbabwean players are either playing their trade in the South African top-flight, aspiring to or have been. Meanwhile, Ghana, who are still in the running for the much-need top spot in Group G, pose danger in their own backyard.
Broos is not fazed though. After all, he did it with the Cameroon national team four years ago, leading them to the Africa Cup of Nations crown with a group of youngsters. That’s why he’s hoping that his players draw inspiration from his calmness.
“I think this is my character. I am not quickly nervous or upset. I re-evaluate things. I know it’s important to beat Zimbabwe but I know that there are other things important than football.” said the 69-year-old Belgian-born coach on Wednesday.
“But again, that doesn’t mean I am not ready to go for that game. As a player, I was also one that was very calm. It is a character. But some players need to be nervous in order to perform well. When I am nervous, that is not good for me.”
He added: “But when I am calm, (I am good). Being stressed is normal though. But it also reflects on the team. But when you are working with a young team, it’s perhaps an advantage that you are working with a coach that’s calm.”
Broos, though, has had to deal with a few set-backs ahead of their two crucial qualifiers. Yusuf Maart had to be withdrawn from camp after a knee injury and was replaced by 22-year-old SuperSport United midfielder Jesse Donn.
Before that Sifiso Hlanti ruptured his Achilles tendon at training with club Kaizer Chiefs, while he was replaced by Tercious Malepe. And before those changes, Broos was already sweating over the suspension of Victor Letsoalo for tomorrow.
“For the first game against Zimbabwe, we have Victor who’s suspended but I wanted to keep him for the game against Ghana because he's another striker like (Evidence) Makgopa. So, we need him for the game (at Cape Coast),” Broos said.
But while Broos might be moaning over short-comings here and there, he should be pleased that all the teams would have had little time to prepare for the rest of the qualifiers. Ghana will also be away to Ethiopia at the Orlando Stadium tomorrow.
“It’s a totally different week than the other weeks. We are playing on Thursday and then on Sunday. So the physical training is not there anymore. We can’t do it. You have to keep the teams fresh. Yesterday’s training was tactical,” he said.