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‘First choice always the first choice’: Broos picks squad for World Cup qualifiers

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Hugo Broos, head coach of South Africa. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has explained the omission of Njabulo Ngcobo, in his final squad for the World Cup qualifiers, saying that had to take a gamble in his first official squad.

BAFANA Bafana coach Hugo Broos has explained the omission of the reigning Defender of the Season, Njabulo Ngcobo, in his final 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month, saying that had to take a gamble in his first official squad.

A week ago, Broos announced a 31-man preliminary squad that would face Zimbabwe and Ghana in the global showpiece qualifiers on the third and sixth of September respectively. But the Belgian trimmed down that squad to just 23 on Tuesday morning.

One of the biggest omissions was that of Ngcobo. Ngcobo had an impressive outing at Swallows FC last term. As a result, he was crowned the top-flight’s Defender of the Season, while he also joined Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the new campaign.

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Before his move to Chiefs, Ngcobo was one of the stand-out players when Bafana won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha last month. And Broos having kept a bulk of the players that played in the Cosafa and Olympic Games, Ngcobo’s name was expected to be there.

But that was not the case. Instead, Broos has kept Ngcobo’s teammate Austin Dube who also joined Chiefs after an impressive outing with GladAfrica Championship side Richards Bay last season. Broos, though, explained the omission of Ngcobo on Tuesday.

Motebang Sera of Lesotho (left) challenged by Njabulo Ngcobo of South Africa during the 2021 COSAFA Cup match on 13 July 2021. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

“I have 31 players, and I had to choose. You have to make a choice, be it a tactical choice or sometimes you need a certain type of a defender. And that’s what has happened with Ngcobo. But I know that he’s a good defender,” Broos explained.

“He’ll get his chance in the next few months. Maybe there are other players that are disappointed but this is my first choice. Maybe after Ghana, I’ll say to myself, maybe this one and that one I shouldn’t have selected. The first choice is always the first choice.”

Mamelodi Sundowns’ defender Mosa Lebusa was also dropped from the final squad after sustaining an injury during their league win over AmaZulu. Lebusa was expected to be the new Bafana captain after Thulani Hlatshwayo was left out of the Bafana squad.

Broos, though, is yet to announce his Bafana captain, saying he has to consult with his assistant Helman Mkhalele in the next few days. Bafana are expected to assemble for camp on Monday, before jetting out to Harare for their match against The Warriors.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (Supersport United), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs).

Defenders: Sydney Mobbie (Mamelodi Sundowns), Rushine De Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel),Thibang Phete (Belenenses FC, Portugal), Thabani Dube (Kaizer Chiefs), Sibusiso Mabiliso (Kaizer Chiefs)

Midfielders: Sipho Mbule (Supersport United), Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United), Mothobi Mvala (Mamelodi Sundowns), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune FC), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs)

Strikers: Thabiso Kutumela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United), Gift Links (Aarhus GF, Denmark), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC), Victor Letsoalo (Bloemfontein Celtics), Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Luther Singh (FC Copenhagen, Denmark).

@MihlaliBaleka

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