New Bafana coach Broos given breathing space as Caf postpones start of World Cup qualifiers
New Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has been given some breathing space to put together his first squad‚ after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) postponed the kickoff of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying group stage matches from early June to September.
Belgian Broos‚ announced as Bafana’s new coach by the South African Football Association (Safa) on Wednesday‚ was going to have to undergo a crash course on local soccer and the players he has available in a month ahead of his first match.
And that game was a crucial one – Bafana’s opening 2022 Fifa World Cup Group G qualifier against Zimbabwe in Harare on the weekend of June 5 to 6.
Caf said in a press release that the start of Africa’s group stage Qatar 2022 qualifiers have been postponed to September.
This gives Broos a full five months to acquaint himself with South African football‚ including the first few weeks of the 2021-22 DStv Premiership season‚ which will kick off in August‚ and perhaps Safa will be able to arrange a friendly match in the newly-allocated time too.
“The Caf Emergency Committee‚ in consultation with Fifa‚ decided to postpone the Caf qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022™ that were due to be played in June 2021 after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic‚ and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams‚” Caf said in a statement on Thursday.
“The qualifiers will now take place in the existing windows of September‚ October and November 2021‚ and March 2022.
“Caf is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-related protocols‚ including specifically focusing on pre-match testing‚ which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows.
“Full details on the updated match schedule will be provided in due course.”
The postponement presents Safa the perfect opportunity to find an opponent for a friendly for Bafana‚ one where Broos would also be able to call up his foreign-based players‚ for the existing Fifa international date of May 31 to June 8.
Broos‚ who won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon‚ said he hoped to arrove in South Africa next week.
He had indicated he would have to heavily rely on consultation with his “South African assistant” – the identity of whom is still to be confirmed by Safa – in his crash course on local football ahead of next month’s now-postponed game against Zimbabwe.
The 69-year-old also said he would analyse the video footage of Bafana’s matches played in the past year‚ to know what aspects need working on.
Group G’s other two teams are Ghana and Ethiopia.
The winners of the 10 groups progress to the third and final round‚ to be drawn into five home and away ties.