Hugo Broos feels Afcon run has revived interest in SA football

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos looks on during their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against Cape Verde

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos looks on during their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against Cape Verde. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Published Feb 9, 2024


Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says the future is bright for the national team and his players after an incredible campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana crashed out in the semi-finals after losing 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to Nigeria at Stade Bouake. The match had ended 1-1 after extra time.

The result stung the South Africans as this was their second successive loss in the Afcon semi-final and against arch-rivals Nigeria in 24 years. Nigeria had beaten Bafana 2-0 in 2000.

But be that as it may, Broos was still proud of his troops’ exploits as they were not expected to reach this stage of the competition.

Prior to their departure for Afcon, Bafana had drawn or lost matches they were expected to win, including against minnows Rwanda in the World Cup qualifiers.

And that’s not all. Broos’ decision to select 20 local-based players in his final 23-man squad was ridiculed by his naysayers.

But the Bafana team achieved the improbable at the finals. They won two games, including against the No 1-ranked nation in Africa, Morocco, drew three and lost one.

That record has given Broos a lot of confidence – so much so that he believes they’ll be able to put up a fight against the best teams on the continent going forward.

“It’s also a big satisfaction when you don’t play well, but win games against the little countries,” Broos said in his post-match media conference.

“We won against Morocco twice. We played a fantastic game against Ivory Coast in October. The performances here at the Afcon were very good.

“That means that we don’t have to be afraid any more when tomorrow (soon) we play against a better-ranked African country. We are good, and we must believe that.

“This is something I said to players in the last few months: ‘Believe in yourselves, please, you have the qualities. But you have to change some things.’ And they did it!”

Broos also deserves plaudits for Bafana’s incredible run. He stuck to his local players, having started with only two overseas-based players in Percy Tau and Sphephelo Sithole in the last six games – a strategy that paid off.

But Broos didn’t have a ready-made team when he landed the job in 2021, as he had to dismantle everything and assemble his own line-up.

“When I came to SA, first of all, I was a little bit surprised that there were so many old players in the team,” Broos said.

“So, that means we had to change, and I had a lot of critics ... I took players not only from the big teams, but also from the small clubs.

“But it needed some time, and it was nearly one year before we found what we wanted to have. It then got better, we qualified for Afcon, and we started to play good games.”

Bafana can still walk away with a bronze medal from the Afcon, but they’ll have to beat DR Congo at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan tomorrow night (10pm kick-off, SA time) to achieve that feat.

But nonetheless, Broos feels that his trusted locally-based players have already done exceptionally well at the Afcon, and that some of them are ready for greener pastures.

Teboho Mokoena is one of the Bafana players who have lived up to expectations in Ivory Coast, with clubs from France and England having enquired about his services.

“I am so proud of those guys. They wanted to progress (to the final) and play good football,” the 2017 Afcon-winning coach with Cameroon said.

“I really think for some players there is a door opened now to Europe. They’ve shown now that they can play like how they want them to play there.

“So, that’s certainly a good thing for South African football now. The interest in South African football is there again. And I think that’s important too.”


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