Coach Hugo Broos is putting final touches to his side’s preparations for their forthcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers, starting with Saturday’s clash against Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kickoff is at 3pm.
Broos has never hidden his intentions of ushering in a new breed of national team players that could possibly restore pride in the yellow and green colours of Bafana.
A man very familiar with green and yellow is Golden Arrows utility man Cross, who received his first call-up as part of a few fresh faces in the team.
Youth brigade out in full force
The 22-year-old left back was named in the final 23-man squad to face Benin and Rwanda, alongside Polokwane City’s Oshwin Appollis, 22, and Jayden Adams, 22, of Cape Town City.
It has been a rough year-and-a-half for the Kempton Park-born man, who returned to South Africa last year after an unsuccessful three-year stint in Europe, where he turned out for Schalke 04, as well as the Newcastle Academy in England.
On his return, Cross went on trial with Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs, before heading over to SuperSport United, and he was turned away at both clubs over his apparent struggles with his weight and fitness. A short stint at now-relegated Maritzburg United saw Cross attract the attention of Abafana Bes’thende, where he has taken his game to another level and earned himself suitable recognition.
Cross was delighted to receive his first call-up to the Bafana set-up, and expressed his desire to build on his recent success.
“I’m buzzing, to be fair, because it has been one of my goals to achieve – and I’ve achieved it now. So, I just need to go there and give my best and maintain my position,” he told the media this week.
“It feels very good to be here. Like I’ve always said, it’s all down to hard work and it’s starting to show, so I’m just going to keep my head down and keep on working.”
Even at his young age, Cross possesses an incredible level of maturity on and off the field, given his expeditions abroad.
The Wits academy graduate stated that although he is ready to accept any role in the Bafana dressing room at the moment, he would be ready to feature in any of the coming games if called on by Broos.
The big prize, though, is January’s Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.
“Obviously it’s the coach’s decision at the end of the day. If he puts me in, I’ll give my best, but if I’m there or thereabouts, I’ll just soak everything in and take it as a good experience, and just keep working hard as usual,” he said.
Cross will have to tussle with battle-hardened Mamelodi Sundowns left back Aubrey Modiba, but his versatility also boosts his chances of turning out in the centre-back position.