Hugo Broos: Bafana played fantastic football after ‘terrible trip’ to Nigeria

Themba Zwane, seen here challenging Nigeria’s Alhassan Yusuf, produced a terrific goal for Bafana. Photo: BackpagePix

Themba Zwane, seen here challenging Nigeria’s Alhassan Yusuf, produced a terrific goal for Bafana. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 9, 2024


Coach Hugo Broos was filled with appreciation for Bafana Bafana’s dogged determination against hosts Nigeria in Friday’s Fifa World Cup qualifier, which ended in a 1-1 stalemate at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

Bafana may have settled the clash as a contest by half-time because they held the upper hand for long spells against their more fancied hosts.

However, once the tables were turned in the second half, the South Africans showed a steely resolve, which their Belgium tactician said stems from their mentality.

“All the players want only one thing, and that is going to the World Cup. You see it in their mentality,” Broos said.

One moment of “Mshishi magic” from Bafana star Themba Zwane tore the Nigerian defence to shreds and saw him score a terrific goal in the 29th minute.

The capacity 30 000 crowd were stunned into silence, and the Super Eagles did not recover from the setback by the time Chad referee Alhadi Mahamat blew for half-time.

— SABC Sport (@SABC_Sport) June 7, 2024

Broos described his team’s first-half performance as “fantastic” after they did enough to run up at least a 3-0 lead.

He was also relieved the players did not allow the effects of a bad travelling experience to distract them.

“It was a tough game against a good team, but in the first half, I think we played fantastic football,” said Broos.

“First of all, I think the result, a draw, is correct. We had our chances, Nigeria had their chances.

“But I have to congratulate my players. As you know or you don’t know, we had a terrible trip to Nigeria on Wednesday.

“We were only in bed at two o’clock on Thursday morning. So, we were 20 hours on the way, and when you see the mentality in the team today, then I can only be proud of my players.”

The Super Eagles were a different side in the second half, and that was highlighted by German-born Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, who scored almost as soon as play restarted.

The equaliser injected new life into the ranks of the Nigerians, and as the second half progressed, they wrested the initiative from the South Africans.

It wasn’t one-way traffic, though, because Bafana stayed in the game thanks to penetrative transition plays, which occasionally produced scoring opportunities.

One of these materialised as a sitter, which the off-colour Percy Tau ballooned over the crossbar.

“It was a little bit unlucky from our side that after two minutes in the second half, we conceded a goal,” said Broos.

“Then you know it will be difficult (for us to regain control), but again, we fought for it.”

The local media were a shade surprised that Broos was so pleased with the draw because they felt he should have rather said he would have been happier with a win.

But Broos explained that other teams are fast catching up with football giants in Africa like Nigeria and his team, which means there will be better competition and every Group C game will be tough – with the other teams being Lesotho (the current log-leaders), Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Benin, with only the group winners earning automatic qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

— CAF (@CAF_Online) June 7, 2024

Hence, he was pleased that Bafana Bafana did not come away empty-handed from Nigeria.

“It’s unbelievable these days as this is something for me that was the biggest thing (coming away with a point),” said Broos.

“Also in Afcon, the little countries progressed a lot, and you also saw the results in Afcon with teams who were in the second and third rounds, which we normally don’t expect in Afcon.

“In Africa, every team can win against any other team. Every team can take points from any other team, so it will be tough until the last game.”

Bafana Bafana flew back and arrived in South Africa last night to prepare for Tuesday’s game against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein (6pm kick-off).