Hugo Broos’ Bafana Bafana provide hope for the future
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CAPE TOWN - There were less than 15 minutes to go for Bafana Bafana to find a winning goal against Ghana at FNB Stadium on Monday when coach Hugo Broos made a huge decision.
The Belgian mentor proved that he was not scared of reputations when he opted to take off Percy Tau and bring on Njabulo Blom in the 77th minute.
Tau had produced a much improved performance compared to last Friday’s clash against Zimbabwe in Harare, where he hardly troubled the defence.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion attacker, who recently joined Pitso Mosimane’s Egyptian giants Al Ahly, was his usual busy self against the Black Stars on Monday, and had a goal disallowed as well.
Tau was clearly on-side when he headed home from Nyiko Mobbie’s cross from the left before halftime, but he was adjudged to be offside.
The 27-year-old was Bafana’s best chance of a breakthrough against Ghana, but when the goal was still not forthcoming late into the game, Broos did almost the unthinkable by taking him off.
Instead, it was Maritzburg United youngster Bongokuhle Hlongwane who came up with the decisive goal when he squeezed the ball past Ghanaian goalkeeper Richard Ofori in the 83rd minute.
It was another reminder of the 69-year-old Broos’ willingness to back the youth of South African football going forward. For too long have so-called stars played on reputation, and it has taken Bafana nowhere – they last competed at the World Cup in 2010, when they didn’t need to qualify as SA were the hosts.
Japan and South Korea 2002 was the last time Bafana successfully navigated through African qualifying...
So, does the 2022 World Cup qualifier victory over Ghana finally represent new beginnings for Bafana? It certainly looks like it. There were already signs of progress in the 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe, where SA were able to create a number of scoring opportunities, which they were unable to convert.
It seemed as if they were going to suffer a similar fate against Ghana, but Hlongwane came to the rescue, and now Bafana top Group G with four points ahead of their games against Ethiopia next month. Apart from Hlongwane, Evidence Makgopa has been lively in leading the front-line, while Broos heaped praise on midfielder Ethan Brooks for another outstanding performance against Ghana.
With a new captain in goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, midfield maestro Teboho Mokoena calling the shots and a number of fresh faces in the team, these young warriors will hopefully add some fighting spirit that may have been missing before.
The key to success for many African teams is the fact that most of their players feature in foreign leagues, and it is something that must be encouraged and developed with SA’s players as well in the next few years.
But while Broos has reportedly been given a mandate to qualify Bafana for the 2026 World Cup and the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, now they have a real chance of getting to Qatar 2022 …