Often players have been recycled at the national team, with some not selected on merit or form, but on popularity or experience.
INDEED, the winds of change are blowing at Bafana Bafana! This was evident after coach Hugo Broos selected a relatively youthful squad for the Fifa 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana next month.
Often players have been recycled at the national team, with some not selected on merit or form, but on popularity or experience. This was almost a “safe card” by coaches who perhaps knew their jobs were on the line.
Belgian Broos is instead determined on rebuilding the team and giving youngsters a chance. After all, that had worked for him when Cameroon won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017.
Broos won’t have to stress about the continental showpiece next year, given that his predecessor Molefi Ntseki had failed to inspire the team to Cameroon, which led to his dismissal. Broos only has to qualify for the World Cup.
For that the 69-year-old has adopted a fearless approach, signalling a start of a ‘new era’, by selecting most of the players that won the Cosafa Cup and those who played for the Under-23s during the Tokyo Olympics, for the qualifiers in September.
The association hierarchy might accept that the restructuring phase might not yield instant success and that a ticket to Qatar is not inevitable, but Broos vows that they’ll fail having tried their best to go to the Middle East.
The Belgian has admitted that it wasn’t easy to select the 31-man provisional squad which he’s expected to trim before their trip to Harare, but he’s taken confidence from the fact that all the players had pre-season preparations with their clubs recently.
It’s possible that some of the selected players might not feature regularly for their clubs during the start of the season, and with the transfer window still open in most leagues some players could still be on the move.
South Africa’s golden boy Percy Tau had a frustrating first season at Brighton & Hove Albion, making only six appearances in the second half of the campaign. However he has attracted interest from Egyptian side Al Ahly where he would reunite with his former coach Pitso Mosimane.
Broos has endorsed this potential move, saying it would do Tau a world of good. The Belgian was equally pleased that striker Luther Singh recently found a new home at Danish top flight side FC Copenhagen. That Broos called up mostly local-based players could prove to be a masterstroke for his first two matches. The local top flight has begun and at least four matches would have been played by the time the qualifiers start.
Therefore Broos would have seen most of his players and watched most of the Zimbabweans as well, considering that most of their players play in the top flight and second tier of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
Ghana could pose the biggest threat though. Bafana held them to a 1-1 draw during their last visit in March and that performance should offer some positives.
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams, Veli Mothwa, Bruce Bvuma and Sifiso Mlungwana
Defenders: Sydney Mobbie, Rushine De Reuck, Thapelo Morena, Siyanda Xulu , Thibang Phete, Thabani Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo, Mosa Lebusa, Sibusiso Mabiliso and Innocent Maela
Midfielders: Kobamelo Kodisang, Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena, Mothobi Mvala, Sphelele Mkhulise, Sphephelo Sithole, Njabulo Blom, Ethan Brooks, Yusuf Maart and Siyethemba Sithebe
Strikers: Thabiso Kutumela, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Gift Links, Evidence Makgopa, Victor Letsoalo, Percy Tau and Luther Singh