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Hugo Broos' 'Guinea Pigs' were impactful but failed to leave their mark

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos speaks to the media ahead of their departure for Belgium. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos speaks to the media ahead of their departure for Belgium. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 26, 2022

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Cape Town — Bafana Bafana's "experimental" combination produced encouraging signs going forward but were not clinical enough in the striking zone in Friday's goalless stalemate against Guinea at the Guldensporen Stadion in Belgium.

In the first half, Bafana enjoyed a whopping 68% possession. They fashioned 10 shots at goal, but none were converted. Evidence Makgopa, who operated as the lone striker in the team's 4-2-3-1 playing pattern, and Lyle Foster, who was deployed as an attacking central midfielder, were wasteful when scoring chances emerged.

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The team's first-half superiority was built on the back of a sterling combination, which operated with great effect down the right flank where national team debutants Khuliso Mudau and Bandile Shandu were impressive. They both exuded loads of energy and relentlessness that helped to expose the opposition's defensive vulnerabilities, almost straight from the opening centre.

At the rate that Shandu's game has progressed, he could soon develop as a playmaker and striker rolled into one.

Their performances came like a breath of fresh air in the national team. However, future opposition sides will likely pay greater attention to keeping them under wraps. They also showed fine understanding with central midfielder Mothobi Mvala who shone in his role as a linkman.

He was superb in front of the four-man rear-guard and wasted no time in joining the attacking sorties.

On the strength of the lack of first-half composure in the striking zone, coach Hugo Broos might have done well to switch to plan B and change the striking personnel. Instead, he persevered with Makgopa in the second half and substituted Foster with Victor Letsoalo 20 minutes from the end.

By the time Letsoalo joined the fray, Guinea had tightened up their defence considerably, and Bafana was not able to dominate any longer. As a result, no scoring chances fell to Letsoalo, and he was unable to make an impact.

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Makgopa and Foster were not the only toothless ones in the attack. Gilt-edged scoring chances fell to Keagan Dolly, Shandu and Thabang Monare as well. Dolly had an excellent first half but faded later and, on occasions, lost possession.

The game in France, which was his base for several years, may just be the tonic he needs to take Bafana Bafana to a higher level.

Broos has lined up Fagrie Lakay and Bongukuhle Hlongwane to spearhead the team's attack in Tuesday's international friendly against World Cup champions France in Lille.

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France salvaged a 2-1 win in an uninspiring performance against Ivory Coast in Friday's friendly in Marseille, thanks to an injury-time goal from a set-piece.

The French coach Didier Deschamps, like his South African counterpart Broos, did not attach much importance to the result. He fielded three debutants in Christopher Nkunku, William Saliba and Jonathan Clauss. After Friday's match, he said the players who were not used for the Ivory Coast match, will play against South Africa.

Broos, in his own words, fielded an experimental side against Guinea. Deschamps expressed similar feelings about the composition of the team to play against South Africa.

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"When we have friendly matches, we must take advantage of them," said Deschamps. "I will make changes to distribute playing time to the maximum number of players."

The French side will enjoy considerable lift with the inclusion of the classy Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante. He was not available for Friday’s match after he left camp for personal reasons.

Deschamps is hopeful that the world-class Kylian Mbappé, who shot to fame at the 2018 FIFA World Cup when he helped victorious France chase the Holy Grail with a goal in the final, will be available. He has been nursing an injury that will be assessed on Sunday.

"Kylian is not going to do the (training) session because of an ENT (ear, nose and throat) infection," said Deschamps. "I will take stock with him and the medical staff tomorrow."

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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