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Five major concerns facing Hugo Broos and Bafana Bafana ahead of Ivory Coast clash

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos

FILE - Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Oct 15, 2023


Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos could barely manage to watch his team dodder to an insipid goalless draw against lowly Eswatini at the FNB Stadium on Friday evening.

He had arrived at the venue with high expectations of being filled with awe after what he saw encouraging signs at the training sessions earlier in the week. Instead, he was filled with 'frustration, anger and unbelief" and was hugely relieved when the final whistle sounded.

Now Broos will be left to ponder at least five major concerns ahead of Tuesday's match against the 2023 AFCON hosts Ivory Coast

1. Bafana Bafana’s lethargy laid bare

The players were downright abysmal and afterwards Broos spoke openly about the lack of urgency in the ranks. The ranks were devoid of passion and even when scoring chances emerged there seemed a lack of desire to capitalise. The team was crying out for someone to provide some spark to the game but even the 'Man of the Match', the former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Njabulo Blom, was ineffective on a day when he could have made his mark on the national team. Perhaps Percy Tau was indeed the missing link.

2. Bafana Bafana’s toothless attack

Lyle Foster has made quite the impression at Burnley Football Club since debuting in the English Premier League, and he has raised hopes that he would bring a cutting edge that a special striker can provide. However, he and Khanyisa Mayo, Themba Zwane and Mihlali Mayambela were anything but clinical in front of goal. At the start of the second half, Broos introduced Mduduzi Mdantsane and Bongokuhle Hlongwane in the attack, but they were equally well off their game.

3. Bafana Bafana's unbeaten run stretches to 10

It was a big yawn but the goalless draw against neighbours Eswatini means that under Broos, the national team are now 10 games. The last time Bafana suffered a defeat was against Morocco in Rabat in June 2022. The highlight of this run came earlier this year in June when Bafana Bafana honoured Clive Barker's memory with a thunderous and memorable 2-1 win against World Cup semi-finalists Morocco at a rapturous FNB Stadium. This winless run will come under severe threat on Tuesday when Bafana Bafana play ACON hosts Ivory Coast.

4. Bafana Bafana's fringe players may prove more reliable

Khanyisa Mayo who landed a berth in the run-on XI because of the absence of Percy Tau looked the pick of the Bafana Bafana attack. He made some promising off-the-ball plays which took his markers by surprise and if he was more composed in the firing line he could have been on the scoresheet. But at least he showed a sense of urgency about his play and seemed to be enjoying the outing in the national team.

5. Bafana Bafana ran out of steam at the end

Bafana Bafana dominated the opening 70 minutes and it seemed they would end the match the same way. But strangely Eswatini managed to shake Bafana Bafana's vice-like grip on the match and in the final stages, the visitors looked the likelier to score. By this time, by Broos' admission, the team had only fashioned one scoring chance. The only thing that came to the fore was that this team failed to strike up cohesion and no one in their ranks could take the lead and see that the players gelled. Maybe Broos needs to look to a Sundowns player to play this role since most of the squad are drawn from the ranks of the Brazilians. This failure to gel may have contributed to the team's poor finish.

IOL Sport