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OPINION: What’s next for Bafana Bafana and Hugo Broos?

The biggest cloud over Bafana Bafana is without question the World Cup qualifying match resulting in shady favour of Ghana and its subsequent happenings.

Bafana Bafana
Image copyright - Steve Haag Sports

The biggest cloud over Bafana Bafana is without question the World Cup qualifying match resulting in shady favour of Ghana and its subsequent happenings. The country is eagerly anticipating FIFA’s decision with bated breath, but what is next for Bafana Bafana if the world’s footballing head does not achieve the desired result (in terms of SAFA’s wishes), a replay?

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

After failing to qualify for the 2022 African Cup of Nations, a swift change of coach took place with eyes laser focused on World Cup qualification. However, new Belgium coach Hugo Broos made it clear that qualifying for the World Cup was not the foremost goal and fans should be realistic, stating the following when speaking to news sources on open broadcast:

“If there’s something I’ll ask from you, it is patience. We will do everything in our power to qualify for next year’s World Cup. However, you also have to be realistic.

“We’re not in an easy group. We have Ghana and two dangerous teams in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, so it’s going to be tough.

“It must not be seen as a disappointment if we don’t because it can happen, so don’t be angry if we don’t make to the World Cup.”

The team selection by the 2017 AFCON winner, Broos, was heavily criticized for not selecting who the media, pundits, and public alike deemed ‘the best’ for the job. He was uncertain and unsure of South African players and to make matters worse, he was appointed at the end of the DStv Premiership season. The Belgian had a criterion to fulfil his mission in revitalizing the nations national team and resorted to his assistant and former Bafana Bafana player Helman Mkhalele for advice.

Broos has since won over many Bafana Bafana fans with a test run of his ‘new squad’ in the COSAFA Cup victory and the World Cup qualification results. The new head coach saw the national team collect its biggest ever tally of points (13) in the group stage since the recent structural changes to qualification.

So, the question remains, what is instore for our beloved Bafana Bafana? As Hugo mentioned when first taking on the job of restoring and furthering the team on the African continent, we must be patient. The overall goal is to re-establish South Africa on the world footballing stage, and what better way to do that than start small in building a new foundation.

COSAFA has been ticked off and automatically we can assume AFCON 2023 is the next item on the agenda. We can watch and only analyse from afar next year as the continent battles it out in Cameroon for AFCON 2022.

Hugo has taken leaps and strides in building a new team in just six months, and most importantly, bringing a renewed confidence to the players and nation surrounding SAFA and the national football team on a whole.

Broos has mentioned his ambition in building small and incorporating global views on football for our nation stating:

“When you’re the coach of Anderlecht or Brugge in Belgium, the first thing they tell you is that you have to be the League Champion, win the Cup, and go far in the Champions League,

“It’s very important to have a global view on what happens beneath Bafana Bafana (U19, U21, U23 etc.), and it will be important also for the future of Bafana Bafana.

“We need to be at the 2023 AFCON and if we don’t, the blame will certainly be on me. We will have some disappointments, but in them, we will have progress.”

Bafana Bafana’s rejuvenated team is in its infancy and will strive for greater things. Hugo wants South African football to be revered, as I am sure we all do, with the likes of bigger teams on the continent. Egypt, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and our new arch-rivals Ghana are all ahead and neither of them have made a dent in challenging for the honours of best in the world.

South Africa’s primary goal for the future should be and has been stated to be AFCON qualification and winning the tournament for the first time in 20+ years, followed by a good run in the Confederations Cup will be a great testament of where we as a nation could stand at the possibility of an eventual 2026 World Cup.

Goodluck to coach Hugo in our future endeavours as well as the young talent he has brought through. Broos has laid the foundation and I hope he finds the resources from SAFA, cooperation from local clubs of the PSL, and most importantly the backing of our supporters to succeed as Bafana Bafana head coach.

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