Home Sport Broos out to get Bafana back on the big stage

Broos out to get Bafana back on the big stage

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The South African men’s football side will play Benin and then Rwanda in the opening two matches of World Cup qualification, looking to return to the grand stage for the first time since 2010.

Hugo Broos, coach of South Africa during the 2023 International Friendly between South Africa and Namibia at Orlando Stadium, Soweto, South Africa on 09 September 2023. Picture: BackpagePix

BAFANA Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has been handed a second shot at returning South Africa to the World Cup stage at the 2026 edition in the US, Canada and Mexico.

The South African men’s football side will play Benin and then Rwanda in the opening two matches of World Cup qualification, looking to return to the grand stage for the first time since 2010.

Broos’s charges will have to see off the challenge of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Benin, Rwanda, as well as neighbours Zimbabwe and Lesotho in a stacked Group C.

The winners of each group secure automatic qualification for the World Cup, while a play-off stage for the four best group runners-up determines who will represent Africa in an inter-confederation tournament in March 2026.

A total of nine African slots have been guaranteed for the expanded World Cup in three years, which will boast 48 teams for the first time.

Broos’s first attempt at helping Bafana qualify for the last World Cup was tainted by a huge refereeing controversy that saw Ghana hand South Africa their only defeat in qualification and book their spot in Qatar.

Under Broos, Bafana won four matches, drew one and lost one in 2020, a record the experienced Belgian will look to better this time around.

Undoubtedly, Bafana have improved vastly under the unfiltered manager as he currently boasts an 11-game unbeaten run, one that began in June last year, and are nearing 500 days without defeat.

As proven over the years by the giants of African football, the foundation for a successful qualifying campaign has always been forged by turning home stadiums into fortresses, an ability Bafana will have to establish early on.

Broos will take their opening match to the Moses Mabhida Stadium this time around, looking to attract the normally reliable football-loving community of Durban after a disappointing turnout in Johannesburg in recent months.

The 71-year-old mentor has had to manage difficulties in trying to form his most trusted 23-man squad for the coming two matches.

First, Bafana’s brightest star, Burnley man Lyle Foster, has taken a break from club and international football to deal with mental health concerns.

The 23-year-old has lit up the English Premier League in his first seven appearances of the 2023/24 season by scoring three goals and providing two assists. He is sure to be missed by his Bafana teammates.

Broos has also opened up on the issues of US-based midfielder Njabulo Blom, who misses out based on what the coach described as “attitude problems”.

However, Broos still possesses enough firepower and quality in his squad, and experience, to be able to manage two victories against Benin and Rwanda.

The likes of Themba Zwane, Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba of Strasbourg in the French Ligue 1 are expected to spearhead the South African attacking unit.

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