Hugo Broos ropes in young guns in adventurous Bafana preliminary squad
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos kept to his promise of an emphasis on youth, naming a 31-man preliminary squad for the team’s first two 2022 World Cup qualifiers that had a decidedly adventurous outlook.
The Belgian takes charge of his first two matches against Zimbabwe in Harare on Friday, September 3 (kickoff 3pm), and Ghana at FNB Stadium on Monday, September 6 (kickoff 6pm). A final squad reduced in size is set to be named in about two weeks.
Brighton’s Percy Tau, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Thapelo Morena and Orlando Pirates’ Innocent Maela stood out as more experienced campaigners who played a role in Broos’s predecessor Molefi Ntseki’s failed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
Broos named interesting defensive prospects Thibang Phete (Belenenses, Portugal), Thabani Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo (both Kaizer Chiefs) and Sibusiso Mabiliso (AmaZulu).
The midfield, especially, had an emphasis on youth from the coach who won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon with a young team missing many front-line stars.
These included Kobamelo Kodisang (Braga B, Portugal), Sipho Mbule (Supersport United), Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United), Mothobi Mvala and Sphelele Mkhulise (both Mamelodi Sundowns). Also young prospects for the middle of the park were Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy) and Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune United).
The forwards, too, included young prospects Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United), Gift Links (Aarhus, Denmark) and Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC).
“We have to prepare a young and victorious team and qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” Broos said.
“But we have a tough group with three teams who qualified for the Nations Cup next year, so it can be that we don’t qualify [for Qatar]. But we will try to do everything that we can to qualify.
“And if we don’t qualify, I think these games will be a fantastic experience for the players and prepare us well to qualify for the Nations Cup in 2023.”
Broos said he saw some prospects and “gained a lot of information” watching the games of the Bafana developmental team that won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha and SA Under-24 team that exited in the opening round of the Tokyo Olympics in the past two months.
His squad combined elements of both those tournaments and the Bafana that beat Uganda 3-2 in a friendly at FNB Stadium under assistant Helman Mkhalele in May.
Bafana Bafana preliminary squad -
Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu)
Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs)
Sifiso Mlungwana (Golden Arrows)
Nyiko Mobbie (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Rushine De Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Siyanda Xulu (Haopel Tel Aviv, Israel)
Thibang Phete (Os Belenenses, Portugal)
Thabani Dube (Kaizer Chiefs)
Njabulo Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs)
Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Sibusiso Mabiliso (Kaizer Chiefs)
Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)
Kobamelo Kodisang (Braga B, Portugal)
Sipho Mbule (Supersport United)
Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United)
Mothobi Mvala (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Sphelele Mkhulise (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Sphephelo Sithole (Os Belenenses, Portugal)
Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs)
Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy)
Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune United)
Siyethemba Sithebe (AmaZulu)
Thabiso Kutumela (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United)
Gift Links (Aarhus GF, Denmark)
Evidence Makgopa (Baroka)
Victor Letsoala (Bloemfontein Celtic/Royal AM)
Percy Tau (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Luther Singh (FC Copenhagen, Denmark)