Jan. 22, 2024


4 min read

Hugo Broos keeps feet firmly grounded

Hugo Broos keeps feet firmly grounded

Bafana Bafana after their victory over Namibia

Story highlights

    This is amidst euphoria of Bafana swatting noisy neigbours aside
    The win catapulted Bafana from last to second in their group standings

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BAFANA Bafana broke the shackles in front of goal to smash four into Namibia's net as they catapulted themselves into a commanding position in their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) group.

Getting out of Group E looked all the more difficult for Hugo Broos and his charges after match-day one, when South Africa went down 0-2 to Mali and noisy neighbours Namibia pulled off a shock triumph against Tunisia, one of the pre-tournament favourites.

However, Bafana seized control of their destiny and engaged in what turned out to be a stroll.

The goals came from a Percy Tau penalty, a stylish Themba Zwane brace, and a Thapelo Maseko strike, capping off a fantastic night under the Ivorian skies.

Bafana, ranked 64th in world football, shifted from dead last to second in the group, ahead of the 115th-ranked Brave Warriors, due to goal difference.

Mali (51st) and Tunisia (28th) played out 1-all draw 24 hours prior.

The win was a necessary confidence boost for South Africa, their pragmatic coach believes.

"As you know, we had to win the game today to have a chance of going through the group stages. So, we were a little bit nervous in the beginning of the game. After the first goal, (the nerves) was released and we played a good game," said Broos. 

"We had a good analysis of the opponent. We showed the players where their weaknesses were and where their strongest points were. Namibia are very dangerous with long balls. But today they were not dangerous."

Broos was happy to see his players "fight" for the victory as he made two significant changes from the side that tasted defeat against Mali.

There has always been an issue with Siyanda Xulu at centre-back and Broos rather handed the defensive duties to Grant Kekana as Bafana played with an all-Mamelodi Sundowns backline. 

Broos strategically positioned Thapelo Morena, usually a right-back, at right-wing.

This decision provided Bafana with a significant attacking threat, particularly on the counterattack.

Morena's pace and composure in the offensive phase contributed more than what Thapelo Maseko offered against Mali on a night when Bafana needed such contributions.

"Maybe today was not the football of South Africa. We are a team who like to play football, but sometimes in the most difficult moments," he continued.

"I think the boys learned their lesson. We had a debriefing two days after the [Mali] game and we showed the things we shouldn't do anymore.

"What's wrong with kicking the ball in front, even if there is nobody when you are in trouble? There is nothing wrong with it.

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"That's what we did, maybe our football was more 'realistic' and I'm happy for that – that we know also it doesn't always have to be nice football and good combination, technique and style – no!

"Sometimes you have to fight for it."

But Broos is not going to allow the emphatic triumph distract him from reality, knowing full well that the job is not done yet.

A draw against Tunisia should be sufficient for Bafana Bafana, but a victory would secure them a top-two finish and automatic progression to the last 16.

Considering the tournament's format, where four third-best placed finishers also advance to the knockout stage, accumulating four points might be adequate to secure a spot among that quartet.

"It was a good win and important for the goal difference and now we have a boost of confidence ahead of the game on Wednesday against a very strong opponent. An opponent who has to win that game to stay in Ivory Coast.

"We will prepare the team very good for Tunisia. Let's hope we are ready." - News24


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