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Bafana coach Broos on Lille drubbing: ‘This is no shame for us, even at 5-0’

N'Golo Kante of France beats Bafana Bafana's Bongokuhle Hlongwane in the international friendly at Stade Pierre Mauroy, in Lille, France on March 29 2022.
N'Golo Kante of France beats Bafana Bafana's Bongokuhle Hlongwane in the international friendly at Stade Pierre Mauroy, in Lille, France on March 29 2022.
Image: David Winter/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

It seemed revealing that Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos could only admit, as he had warned before the game, that there was a gulf in class between his young team and France, who powered to a 5-0 friendly win in Lille on Tuesday night.

Even Broos, with his prematch cautions that the result was not important and the experience gained for his players was, would have hoped for a not quite as one-sided match.

A coach of his experience, though, knows that in rebuilding Bafana they are many steps behind the 2018 World Cup-winners warming up to defend their title in Qatar in November with unqualified intensity, even with goals under their belts, at the packed Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

“We knew before the game there was a difference in level between the two teams. But for us, as I said before, the result was not important, it was the experience,” Broos said.

“We are a young team with young players. We don't have the experience the French players have, we don't have the quality the French players have. These are the world champions.

“And we fought for it. We did what we had to do. But OK, when there is such a difference in quality it can happen that you lose a game with such a result.

“So this is not a shame for us, even when it's 5-0. We know why [it happened]. And again, the experience we gained by playing against such a team is worth more than the result.”

In fairness to Bafana, there are international friendlies, and there are international  friendlies. On Tuesday night they met the world champions in a formidable mood.

Broos said, even with the scoreline, his side fought and displayed a willingness for teamwork in the face of the onslaught.

“I saw new players in the team. That was important for me for the [Africa Cup of Nations] qualifiers in June,” he said of the positives gained.

“And I also saw a team. Even with the difficulties, and there were many, it was still a team until the end and this is important too.

“The boys fought for it. Like [striker Lyle] Foster — it was difficult for him, but he played a good game.

“There were a few others who played a good game. And I can see there is more quality now than we had six, seven months ago, and that we are ready for June.”

In such a mismatch, it would be unfair to apportion blame to a coach or his players, rather than the obvious, prolonged and alarming decay in SA football as a result of decades-long short-sighted administration that has not put in place a coherent development programme.

SA had not played a top-class friendly for years, so it was no surprise the world champions, in front of a sold-out, vociferous crowd, were too much to contend with for a young Bafana, most of whom are used to hearing just the shouts of their coaches amid SA football's Covid-19 shutdown.

While Broos was perhaps caught in a tough place of trying to give everyone in his squad a run, some of the coach's selections continue to raise eyebrows.

Rushine de Reuck's absence at centre-back against France was strange. Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps identified right-back Bandile Shandu, winger Keagan Dolly and striker Evidence Makgopa as players he would be concerned about and none of those three started.

One has to wonder if Troyes' big, and relatively young at 26, striker Lebo Mothiba, recently returned from injury, could not have provided more muscle had he been called up for this Bafana tour.

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