Hugo Broos: Bafana Bafana to make Ethiopia suffer
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Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos believes that it will be important to control their away match from the onset against Ethiopia, the first of back-to-back 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers at Bahir Dar Stadium, this afternoon.
Bafana have been impressive in the World Cup qualifiers so far. They are at the summit of the standings in Group G with four points, thanks to a goalless draw away to rivals Zimbabwe and a 1-0 victory over Ghana at home last month.
Ethiopia, though, are expected to pose a different threat to Bafana, given the fact that the latter failed to beat them in their last two meetings. That draw and defeat in 2013 ensured that Bafana failed to book their spot in the 2014 World Cup.
But a lot has happened since then: Bafana’s performance has further declined and failed to qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon – a feat that enforced the appointment of Broos.
The Belgian has all been about giving young players the chance to establish a new dawn. And he’s done well thus far, rebuilding while churning out results. But Ethiopia have also been impressive lately, qualifying for Afcon early next year.
The Ethiopians have also been impressive at home, winning their last four matches. That transformation has come about under coach Wubetu Abate who has turned things around since taking over the reins from Abraham Mebretu late last year.
“We’ll try to have the game under control. If we don’t have control of the game, we’ll suffer for 90 minutes. Once we have control of the game, then we’ll be able to do what we want,” Broos said ahead of their departure to Ethiopia.
“When you want to be first in your group, you have to win once outside. So there are two occasions: on Saturday and in one month’s time in Ghana. Logically, if I can say that, I think it will be easier to win in Ethiopia than away to Ghana.”
Bafana may be top of their group and one point ahead of Ghana and Ethiopia who have three points each, but that they are probably the most inexperienced side in their pool might come back to haunt them at a later stage.
Broos, though, has managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat in his previous continental gig, winning Afcon with a relatively young squad back in 2017. And already, young players such as Ethan Brooks have come to the fore at Bafana.
Brooks marshalled the engine room well alongside Teboho Mokoena against the Ghanaians at home. But Broos knows that his team has to score goals in Ethiopia to take a healthy advantage going to the return leg at home on Tuesday.
“It’s up to us to start the game strongly, not be dominated from the first minute. With the qualities that we have, we have to make sure that we make them suffer,” said the 69-year-old former RSC Anderlecht commander-in-chief said.
Broos tenure at Bafana has been pampered by a lot of disruption – including being denied entry to watch a live domestic match, withdrawal of players without reason or non-co-operation from the clubs. That has left him feeling "sabotaged".
But he’ll be hoping to silence his detractors by delivering where it matters the most – winning matches and getting the best out of his players. After all, that he’s been a no-nonsense coach in his career, which proves his eagerness to succeed.