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Why should I leave a team as good as you, Broos asks Bafana

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says his troops and the nation have nothing to fear going forward, after an impressive outing against Algeria.

South Africa’s head coach Hugo Broos is lifted in the air by South African players after they won the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 third place play-off football match against Democratic Republic of Congo. Picture: Sia KAMBOU, AFP

Mihlali Baleka

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says his troops and the nation have nothing to fear going forward, after an impressive outing against Algeria.

Bafana drew 3-3 with the Desert Foxes on Tuesday night in their second game of the Fifa Series pilot project, which was hosted by the north Africans over the last two weeks.

Bafana’s Themba Zwane scored a brace and Iqraam Rayners got the third goal as they cancelled out Yassine Benzia’s double and Yassine Brahimi’s strike.

But the scoreline was not of much significance to Bafana. Instead, Broos left the Nelson Mandela Stadium a man satisfied with the performance. The South Africans matched the 2019 African kings from start to finish – so much so that they could have won the game if it wasn’t for individual mistakes.

Bafana’s display was also a testament to how much the team have continued to improve after the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, in which they finished third.

“We played against a very strong team, but I do not think there was much difference between the quality of our game and that of Algeria,” Broos said. “That means we have progressed. We have shown at the Afcon and today again. I think we don’t have to be afraid of any team in Africa any more.”

The camaraderie within the Bafana squad pleases Broos as well. That’s proven by how the non-starters cheer on the players on the pitch. Broos made a whopping 10 changes to the team that drew with minnows Andorra in the first game last week, with most of his regulars returning against Algeria.

But after Zwane and Co put on one of the best performances in Broos’ era on the pitch, the excitement was written all over the faces of the supporting players.

That feeling even went up a notch when Elias Mokwana came off the bench to play a starring role in Bafana’s third goal – with his shot taking a deflection off Rayners to find the back of the net, silencing the vocal crowd in Algiers.

“The team is confident, and that’s what I saw as well at Afcon. It’s a team, both on and off the pitch,” Broos acknowledged. “And that is very important, because there are 23 players in the team, but only 11 can play. You see the guys on the bench who are supportive of the ones playing.

“So, that’s really a good thing because as the coach, you can only be happy. But they’ve also shown on the pitch that they are a team.

“Everyone is doing their job – they have a good mentality, and everyone is good. So again, we made some good progress.”

Bafana can’t afford to rest on their laurels now. In fact, they must redouble their efforts come June in the World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria (June 3 away) and Zimbabwe (June 10 at home).

Broos has conceded that he’ll retain some of the players who featured in Algeria for those matches, while others will be considered for a later stage. “I think there are some players who convinced me, and I think they will be with us again in June,” Broos explained.

“The others didn’t disappoint me, but I think maybe it was a little bit too early (for them to get a national team call-up).”

A lot of expectations were placed on the shoulders of attacker Patrick Maswanganyi after his exploits for Orlando Pirates, but he fizzled out against Andorra.

So, whether he’ll make the cut for the coming World Cup qualifiers is debatable. But with domestic football continuing until June, the door is not closed for anyone at “brave Bafana”.

“This is normal in international football. You bring in new players, and only then you see that maybe it’s a bit too early. But we’ll watch them closely,” Broos added.

“But all the players we took, there was nobody who really disappointed me. This is another sign of progress.”

Broos also continued to assure everyone that they’ll improve and work together for the foreseeable future, dismissing talk that he’ll join the Tunisian national team.

Speaking to the players in the changeroom after the Algeria match, in a video posted on Bafana’s X account yesterday, he said: “What you’ve heard or what you’ve read is nothing … (There’s) nothing about it. And even, why should I leave a good team as you?”

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