Every time South Africa are set to showcase their talent, our nation’s football lovers come together to witness a fixture written in the history books. Yes, it is just a friendly and I should focus on the style of play, the progress and Hugo Broos’ plan, but who doesn’t want to see Bafana Bafana walk away victorious?
To Win Match
South Africa 13/20 | Draw 23/10 | Sierra Leone 4/1
The last time we heard anything national team-related, coach Hugo Broos was putting out fires over the comments he made concerning the quality of football in the nation. While I personally agree with him, the level does need to be raised drastically, and every friendly Bafana Bafana play grows the squad’s experience together and boosts their confidence in playing the ‘Broos way’.
The last time South Africa played was a young untried and untested squad in the COSAFA Cup as well as the CHAN Qualifiers, and none of those players proved enough to be called up to the ‘first team’. While 13 of the players who faced Morocco in a 2-1 AFCON Qualifier defeat have remained. Namely captain Ronwen Williams, Thibang Phete, Sphephelo Sithole and Lyle Foster who form the spine of the team.
One of many things about Broos is, he is not afraid to make tough decisions and squad rotation has been very evident when players are not up to the standard required or expected of national first-team duty. Highly regarded key players like Percy Tau and Keagan Dolly have had a tough time maintaining playing time, or even form at their respective clubs. Despite their undeniable quality, they have been on the end of a huge decision to be left out.
South Africa will feel hard done after failing to hold on for a draw in Northern Africa. They displayed their ability to play football as well as also close any lines of passing for a majority of the fixture in a great defensive display.
The team have a week in camp together before facing Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone’s AFCON 2021 campaign was one to remember for the nation. An opening round draw against defending champions Algeria gave the side the belief needed to face Ivory Coast in their second fixture. The Leone Stars were not perturbed by Nicolas Pepe’s 65th minute strike and fought till the dying embers of the fixture were nearly snuffed out, but a glorious 2-2 equalizer in additional time from Alhaji Kamara secured yet another unexpected point. On paper, the first two matchups were the most difficult and while the side showed grit and bursts of quality, a 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea killed the party.
Just like their current opposition, Sierra Leone took part in the CHAN Qualifiers prior to the scheduled friendly. Six players participating in the qualifiers have been called up to represent the national first team.
Namely, Prince Barry, who replaces Spanish based midfielder Alhassan Koroma, who cannot make the trip due to issues around traveling documentation.
One player that can cause the opposition a headache is undoubtedly Malmo forward, Mohamed Buya Turay, who helped the Swedish side qualify for the Europa League this season thanks to his goal in a 2-2 draw in the preliminary round.
Sierra Leone must travel to North Africa to face the DR Congo in Morocco for their second friendly after making their trip down to the South of Africa.
Verdict: South Africa 13/20
Hugo Broos has put his new crop of players through their paces in recent friendlies, facing Guinea abroad and world champions France. On the other hand, Sierra Leone coach John Keister has shown his hand in building a new team as well, but with a much younger average age, including three teenagers making up the numbers. The tackles may not be as snappy, and the intensity shouldn’t be as high, but it is a game of football, and the competitiveness does show itself in flashes. I’m backing the home side based on the personnel in comparison to the opposition.