Problems just never end for Bafana

Hugo Broos. | BackpagePix

Hugo Broos. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 19, 2024




The odds are stacked against Bafana Bafana as they aim to consolidate their preparations for the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign.

Bafana left for Algeria on Sunday to play two international friendlies as coach Hugo Broos assesses his selection options ahead of June’s World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Hugo Broos. | BackpagePix

The friendlies are a bonus for Bafana, who normally rely on the national association Safa to arrange matches. On occasions Bafana settle for mediocre opposition who are much lower down the world rankings.

This time Fifa has facilitated inter-confederation friendlies during the March window to provide member associations with key playing opportunities. And yet, Bafana were hamstrung even before the team departed.

Their ‘usual saboteurs’, the PSL, arranged Nedbank Cup matches to end on Sunday which meant that some players had to fly out the next day.

The PSL cannot decide the outcome of the draw, but it decides on the match details such as dates, venues and time. Nothing stopped the PSL from playing Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday or Saturday, so that their players were ready to fly out with the national team on Sunday.

The PSL would have been fully aware that the bulk of the national squad is drawn from Sundowns. As a result, the Sundowns players will only arrive on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s match against Andorra in the seaport city of Annaba, Algeria.

With these time constraints, Broos does not have a decent opportunity to put the players through their paces ahead of an international match. This is not the first time it has happened.

It is vital that Broos has as much time with this squad because he made 10 changes from the squad which did Africa Cup of Nations duty in Ivory Coast. Broos must also deal with other handicaps such as a small technical support team.

Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele being carried by the players. | BackpagePix

His first-choice assistant coach, Macedonian Čedomir Janevski, resigned a few months ago and Broos did not insist that Safa replace him, because of financial considerations.

Broos could have done with the extra pair of eyes. The rest of the technical team consists of assistant coach Helman Mkhalele and goalkeeper coach Grant Johnson.

The tour squad has one doctor, a physiotherapist, a conditioning coach and a kit man. At one stage, the team had two analysts but one resigned. Broos, however, remains happy with Sinesipho Mali. This is the total of Broos’ back-up support.

It is a sad situation that an international side has such limitations, considering the expectations of the nation of 62 million people.

It is, therefore, a crying shame that sports minister Zizi Kodwa has urged Bafana Bafana to be like the Springboks, the reigning Rugby World Cup champions. The Springboks do not have to contend with problems that face the country’s senior men’s national football team.

It would have been equally soul-destroying for Bafana to hear Kodwa telling them in their Ivory Coast dressing room how they should play.