Bafana on the summit but it is still early daysThomas Kwenaite
A single swallow does not signal the arrival of summer, but there has been enough evidence to suggest that perhaps Hugo Broos is on the road to resuscitating Bafana Bafana following a critical World Cup qualifying 1-0 victory over Ghana on Monday.
There was a little bit of skepticism when he dismantled the team he inherited from Molefi Ntseki and basically went for youthful players with Percy Tau (26) and Ronwen Williams (29) the only elder statesmen of the squad but the team showed a lot of promises in the two matches they played under Broos so far.
It is still early days and there is still a long way to go but a goalless draw against Zimbabwe in Harare on Friday was followed by a scrappy but well-deserved victory over Ghana at the FNB Stadium on Monday which has put South Africa on the summit of the group after two rounds.
“I’m very proud and happy of what I saw on the pitch about my team,” said Broos who also had to make do without several players ruled out by injuries and Covid-19 rules that prevented some from featuring while others tested positive for the pandemic.
“We made big progress sin one week. When I saw my team play in Zimbabwe there was no confidence, no determination and no belief. But against Ghana I saw a team that was confident, who played a very good game and there was determination, a will to win and there was also discipline.
“A few days ago, I said that if we could collect four or six points after two games I would be very happy. But my summation was that we would win in Zimbabwe and play a draw against Ghana.
“However, as things stand I’m not unhappy about that and we can see that if we can go on like this there is definitely progress. And if we continue in the same vein like we did this week, we will see where we will finish at the end of the race.”
Asked about Percy Tau’s “disallowed goal” Broos felt that it was critical to use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) like it is the norm across Europe to avoid a situation where a single incorrect decision could influence whether a team qualifies or fails to qualify for the World Cup finals.
“In such important games there needs to be a VAR in place because a goal can determine the outcome of a match. I imagine if this game (against Ghana) ended 0-0 it means we don’t win. Therefore, in such important games, I would like to have the implementation of VAR.”
Broos also complimented his newly formed defence of Rushine de Reuck, Siyanda Xulu, Thapelo Morena and Nyiko Mobbie for keeping it tight against a quality side like Ghana and Zimbabwe.
“To keep a clean sheet is very important. If you have a clean sheet you already have one point. But that doesn’t mean you have to play defensively. Good organization and discipline are very important and we did that today and we also did it, maybe a little bit less in Zimbabwe.
“But today there was a lot of discipline when we lost the ball. What we asked the players is that we had a clean sheet and if you score, you see we have young players, and so you have to give them a chance.
“You cannot really say young players are inexperienced when you do not give them a chance to play. I said from the day I arrived that I will give young deserving players a chance to play and in the next coming months, more and more youngsters will be given a chance to show us their abilities.
“The good thing about this rebuilding process is that if you give more deserving youngsters a chance by exposing them to international football, and they succeed, you have a quality team for the future that could play together for a longer period of time. I believe in youngsters!”
Broos admitted that in spite of the fact that the team was playing for the first time against Zimbabwe, he saw something in their character that gave him confidence that they could cause a few surprises.
But they will not get ahead of themselves and will prepare for the upcoming fixtures against Ethiopia both home and away during October and after those two matches, it is then that they would be able to gauge how far they had come.