Hugo Broos has guided Bafana Bafana to the African Cup of Nations, in his first attempt, after taking the ropes from Molefi Ntseki, writes Dumezweni Nduweni
Bafana Bafana have qualified for the African Cup of Nations 2023, with a game to spare. Broos made promises, in the beginning, to restore the nation’s pride and rebuild the national team. His work is starting to show as he was able to take South Africa during a low after failing to qualify for the 2021 tournament.
They have joined fellow Group K rivals Morocco in the African showpiece. Group K was not without controversy as Zimbabwe was banned by Fifa, and now two out of three teams have a chance to make it to Afcon. Bafana lost to Morocco, drew and also beat Liberia to gain four points taking them to Côte d’Ivoire.
Qualification not only is vindication for the outspoken coach but a glimpse at the work of taking back
South Africa to the top of African football again. The results are there for everyone to see, there is an
upside and maybe there is a method to the madness of Broos’ statements.
This will be Bafana’s 11th appearance in the African showpiece. This is what the coach found peculiar
when he was unveiled two years ago when he said that South Africa should always qualify for
tournaments. The national side is ranked 67th in the world and outside the top 10 brackets in Africa at 12th place.
Bafana will go to the next tournament with a coach who had won the cup before which is a
positive for the country. Broos lives to fight another day, the Belgian tactician has made a series of bold and controversial statements in the past, but none brave and provocative as this one ‘If Bafana Bafana doesn’t qualify for Afcon 2023 kill me,’.
This statement might be analyzed as a statement of intent and a challenge the coach had set himself and his squad two years ago after his appointment. The words were said in 2021, fast forward to 2023 the coach has qualified Bafana Bafana to the top African competition in Ivory Coast.
Broos’ Bravado seems to be what South Africa needed and his honesty is a breath of fresh air. Broos wants the nation to believe not only in him but in his squad and challenge Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams to constantly improve and challenge run-away leaders Mamelodi Sundowns who are steamrolling everyone.
One might argue that it was the easiest passage to Ivory Coast, however, Broos delivered on his
promise. There is renewed belief and confidence within the squad, and there is a growing overseas
contingency of players availing themselves to South Africa. That is a sign of the rebuilding and broadening of the pool of top national players that Broos talked about in the past. Having international players that actually play for their teams.
Under Broos, Bafana Bafana have played 16 games, won nine games, drawn four and lost
three times. The team has scored 22 goals while conceding 16. The losses came from top-ranked sides like the 2018 World Champions France, the on-form team Morocco and Ghana.
The quality of the sides they have beaten may be questioned but a good thing has to be applauded, there are more wins under Broos than losses that are one positive or fact that cannot be disputed and it is true to the fact that you play what is in front of you.
What is also impressive is that the national side has scored in three consecutive qualification games. They scored a goal against Morocco, and two goals in each of the two games against Liberia. They might want to improve at the back as they also have conceded in those Afcon qualification games, two against Morocco and three against Liberia, two at home and one away.
The candid coach made another bold statement during a media post-match session after the win at
Liberia, the coach declared that if they do not make it past the group stages of the tournament his head
is on the block again, he said something along the lines of, now you can kill me if we don’t advance to
the knockout stages.
This belief and confidence the coach has in himself and the team has been what is lacking in the national team. It is a new era for Bafana Bafana under Broos who speaks his mind and challenges the players to rise to the occasion.