Cape Town — Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos had no intention of getting on a soapbox, but when he answered media questions at a recent press conference, he aired some home truths.
And after he did, the old adage 'the truth hurts' came into play on a grand scale as Broos' crushing comments struck a nerve with many in the football fraternity.
First on his moral high horse was Steve Komphela, a former Bafana Bafana caretaker coach. He was at the helm after Pitso Mosimane was sacked in 2012. Komphela lasted a few weeks before Gordon Igesund was appointed.
Responding to a media request for comment, Komphela fired away: 'Nothing wrong with voicing an opinion, but please understand that this is a nation and not some cabal in a forest. Where’s intelligence in such reckless statements.'
Komphela added that Broos' "condescending" comments were "disrespectful, arrogant and showed a lack of respect".
Mamelodi Sundowns striker Kermit Erasmus who has 15 caps for the national team, did not wait on the media to bait him. He voiced his disapproval on his Twitter account, saying: “Why do we have a coach who doesn’t believe in our talent and league? Sorry for thinking out loud.”
The 37-times capped Matthew Booth, a member of South Africa's 2010 FIFA World Cup team, said no one could fault what Broos said, but he felt the Belgium tactician should not have raised the matters publicly.
Booth's response went out on radio and the print media. He said: “Ultimately, I don’t agree with him saying it in public. He was honest, but that’s not the right platform there are some things you have to keep to yourself. The timing is wrong, he just came off from a loss to Morocco, this will literally be seen as an excuse.”
David Kannemeyer, a 15-times capped Bafana Bafana defender, also weighed in on the raging debate on social media. He felt Broos had no right to raise these matters in public and felt he should rather have shared his thoughts with the national body (SAFA), which pays his salary.
SAFA were also called on to comment on Broos' remarks, and president Danny Jordaan said he would call for a report on the matter.
The straight-talking 70-year-old Belgian is a vastly experienced coach and guided Cameroon's Indomitable Lions to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 2017. He has vast experience as an administrator at several clubs in Europe. Years ago, he was part of a group of officials tasked with restructuring Belgium football, which were languishing around the 50 mark on the world rankings around 2012.
The restructuring paid handsome dividends a few years later, and Belgium attained World No 1 status for the first time in 2015. Since then, Belgium had two more spells at the summit of FIFA's world rankings.
Broos has often said he knows what needs to be done to help South Africa improve the quality of football. He has repeatedly requested to meet with coaches of the Premiership clubs but to no avail.
Amateur football and the professional code have been at loggerheads for many years in South Africa and there is no end in sight to the impasse between the organizations.
Recently, the PSL extended its season beyond the scheduled finish and that effectively ruined Bafana Bafana's preparations for their opening Group K Afcon clash against Morocco.
Bafana failed to qualify for World Cup 2022 but they came remarkably close despite Broos fielding untried teams with the eye on rebuilding for the future.
Fortunately for Bafana, their way to AFCON 2023 has been eased and over the next few months, Broos may just succeed in winning over some of his detractors before the continental showpiece in Ivory Coast next year.