Bafana’s Hugo Broos on Helman Mkhalele after Afcon exploits: I love that guy!

Bafana coach Hugo Broos (left) and Helman Mkhalele (middle) and Grant Johnson (right) during the Bafana Bafana training in Stellenbosch ahead of their African Cup of Nation in Cameroon

Following Bafana’s exploits at the Africa Cup of Nations, coach Hugo Broos waxed lyrical about the support he got from his assistant Helman Mkhalele. Picture: Ayanda Ndaman/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 18, 2024


Most of the plaudits went to Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos and his players for masterminding what was the team’s best finish at the Africa Cup of Nations in 24 years.

But speaking at a round-table chat with a group of senior sports journalists at Safa House on Friday morning, Broos waxed lyrical of the support he got from Helman Mkhalele.

“I can never forget what Helman did. He helped me a lot. Without Helman, I wouldn’t have achieved what I achieved with Bafana,” Broos said.

Mkhalele, who added his fourth Afcon medal with the bronze – having won three as a player including gold in 1996 – wasn’t always Broos’ preferred right-hand man.

Not his first choice

Such that upon taking the Bafana job, Broos wanted Molefi Ntseki, his predecessor, to be his second assistant as he had friend and protégé Cedomir Janevski as his deputy.

But the silver-haired Belgian ultimately had to settle for Mkhalele even after Janevski stepped down. And since then, they’ve been a match made in heaven .

“I am so happy with him. I don’t need another one! But it’s not only about football, even the way he is and talks about life. I just love him!” Broos said.

“I love that guy! I just like him very much. If anybody was to say anything about Helman, I think I’d kill them. It’s true. I love that guy. I think he’s a fantastic guy.”

Mkhalele complements Broos so well that they find balance by having their own opinions about the nature and standard of South African football.

Broos has always been open on what he thinks are the high and lows of the local professional league, hence he wanted to set-up a meeting with all 16 coaches.

That is yet to come to fruition, having his request fall on deaf ears. But in Mkhalele, who played for Orlando Pirates and Jomo Cosmos before a move to Turkey, he has found his partner-in-crime.

“Helman has a different view on football than many South Africans. Sometimes, he’s also frustrated about something,” Broos explained.

“We are on the same level. That makes working together so good. In the beginning it was a little bit difficult for him being in South Africa, (where) an assistant is just an assistant.

“But for me he is the coach. So, when we make the team, we are always together. I never say, ‘this is the team’. Never! I will talk with him and ask for his opinion.”

Yielding results

Granted, Broos and Mkhalele’s relationship paid huge dividends at the Afcon finals, the 71-year-old coach trusted his deputy’s view from the outset.

“Helman knew South African football two times better than I do, certainly when I came here. For me this was, ‘yeah, totally unknown’,” Broos said.

“I was appointed as the coach, and two weeks later, I had to select players for a friendly game. So, Helman made the selection. I didn’t know whom I had to select.

“But from that moment, I went to watch many games in the PSL, and after two months I could say I knew the teams and the players. Then we went on.”