Hugo Broos missing key pieces of Bafana Afcon puzzle ahead of Lesotho warm-up

Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams stands during the national anthem.

Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams will miss their final warm-up match ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Published Jan 10, 2024


Bafana Bafana were left facing an injury scare among the core of the side that could potentially disrupt head coach Hugo Broos’ plans for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

The Mamelodi Sundowns trio of goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, defender Mothobi Mvala and star midfielder Themba Zwane have been ruled out of the national team’s final warm-up match against Lesotho on Wednesday.

Broos revealed that his medical team had been monitoring minor issues on the sides of both Williams and Zwane, with more concern placed on Mvala, whose issue seems to be more serious.

“We have a few problems. A few little and a big one,” Broos said yesterday, with Williams and Thabang Monare sat beside him, in Johannesburg.

“So, the little one is here on my right. Ronwen didn’t train with us the last four days but the medical report is positive. So he will start training. He will not play tomorrow but he will be ready for next week Tuesday. There is no doubt about it.

“The second one is Themba. Themba got a kick two days ago at training.

“He wanted to train yesterday, but it was better not to do, so we stopped training. But again, there will be no problem for next week. But tomorrow Themba will not play.”

Mvala has been a mainstay for Broos whenever he has been fit. The 29-year-old has made 11 starts in the 13 call-ups he’s received under Broos, helping Bafana keep four clean sheets in the process.

“The biggest problem is Mothobi,” explained Broos. “He has again a groin injury. So, the doctor is now with him and we will wait for the medical report. It is not sure, it’s not sure that he goes with us to Ivory Coast after tomorrow.

“We wait for the report and see how bad the injury is. But I think if we can take him with us and then the next 10 days he can’t train, then I think it is better that we take a new one.

“But we are not so far for the moment but we have talked already about it. And I hope, I really hope that it is not so bad. And that with a few days’ rest he is again with us and I can count on him for next Tuesday.”

If Mvala is to be ruled out of the tournament, Orlando Pirates’ Tapelo Xoki is expected to take his place in the squad alongside his teammate Nkosinathi Sibisi, as well as Grant Kekana and Siyanda Xulu.

Although Mvala’s absence would be a huge blow to his plans, the arrival of Xoki might entice Broos into deploying the Pirates duo as his centre backs given their strong showings at club level.

Bafana will face Lesotho behind closed doors at the Lucas Moripe Stadium at 3pm today, before jetting off to the Ivory Coast where they’ll face Mali in their opening game of the tournament on Tuesday next week.