Hugo Broos credits ‘powerful defensive players’ for guiding Bafana Bafana to Afcon qualification

Liberia's Nohan Kenneh (right) and Bafana Bafana’s Innocent Maela (left) tussle for the ball. Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

Liberia's Nohan Kenneh (right) and Bafana Bafana’s Innocent Maela (left) tussle for the ball. Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

Published Mar 29, 2023


Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos was speechless after guiding the national team to the Afcon finals following their 2-1 win over Liberia on Tuesday night.

On Friday night, Bafana put their chances of qualifying for the continental showpiece in Cote d’Ivoire in serious jeopardy as they squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with the Lone Stars at home.

It was a disappointing result for the South Africans and Broos refused to honour his post match press conference duties due to anger, resulting in a lot of criticism from the public and media.

And while Broos had since apologised to the nation, he still ran the risk of failing to qualify for the finals if Bafana didn’t win in Monrovia on Tuesday as the head-to-head rule would count against them.

However, that wasn’t to be. Zakhele Lepasa broke the deadlock for Bafana before Mihlali Mayambela scored the winner after the Liberians equalised through William Jebor in the first half.

That victory saw Bafana seal passage to the finals from Group K alongside Morocco, who are on top of the log with six points after back-to-back wins.

“It’s difficult to express my feelings. There are 100 feelings that are going through my body (at the moment),” Broos told the Safa media department after the game.

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“It was a very tough game. We knew the style of Liberia was power play, long balls to the front, then headers and powerful duels. Therefore, we changed some players in our team.”

Broos made five changes to the team that drew with Liberia in Orlando, with scorers Lepasa and Mayambela replacing Lyle Foster and Themba Zwane.

However, Broos argued that it was his defensive changes that made a huge difference as they were able to match the Lone Stars’ powerful play.

“(We introduced) players who are also powerful like (Innocent) Maela and (Sphephelo) Sithole. And I think we did well by doing that,” Broos said.

Having scored first in their last two qualifiers – away to the Atlas Lions and at home to the Lone Stars – Bafana let another lead slip in Monrovia.

“We scored the first goal. And we were a bit unlucky that we conceded a goal from outside the box,” Broos said.

“And you know once you score the second goal, it’s really power play. They just didn’t look at anything anymore. They just dropped the ball in the 18 area, hoping that it fell in front of their feet.

“A few times it fell there. But what we had against us on Friday, I think it worked for us in this game. When you see both games, I think we deserved to win.”

The Afcon-bound Bafana will land at 8.30pm on Wednesday night.