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Bafana coach Broos happy with Harare pitch ahead of World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is overseeing crucial 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in the coming days.
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is overseeing crucial 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in the coming days.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has been pleasantly surprised by the “fantastic” state of the pitch at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

Bafana take on the Warriors of Zimbabwe in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Friday and Broos feared that the pitch may not be up to the desired standards.

“First of all, I am surprised by the pitch,” said Broos during his pre-match press conference on Thursday. “I saw a few games of Zimbabwe from the past and the pitch was very bad but now it is fantastic and I am happy about that.”

Broos added that he has drilled it into his players not to underestimate Zimbabwe, who will be without some of their star players like midfielder Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa, Tendai Darikwa of Wigan Athletic and Jordan Zemura or Bournemouth in England.

The English Premier League (EPL) and all lower divisions in the UK have blocked players from leaving for the current international window, categorising Zimbabwe and many other African countries as red-listed.

“A few weeks ago when we started preparing the team for this important match we knew that it was going to be a tough game and today is not only tough but it is also risky. It is risky because we know that Zimbabwe at the moment has problems with the release of players and that means some of their important players won't be here for this match.

“So for us this is a risky situation, we could underestimate our opponents on Friday because their important players are not here. We will not do that even if we know that Zimbabwe will not be with the players that they expected.”

Broos went on to warn his players that fringe players who are going to be given opportunities will be going all out to impress the coach and stake their claim to starting positions.

“Those who will play tomorrow will want to prove to the coach that they are good enough to be in the squad. I hope that we can have a good result because this is the start of the World Cup qualifiers, we will try to win the game. I am confident because we worked very well with the squad this week.”

On Wednesday, Bafana's medical team withdrew Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Thabiso Kutumela and defender Thibang Phete of Portuguese side Belenenses SAD from the squad after their Covid-19 tests returned positive.

The South African travelling party was subjected to a second round of testing upon arrival Zimbabwe in Wednesday night but by Thursday afternoon the team management had made the results available.