Hugo Broos: Relebohile Mofokeng debut showcases Bafana unity

RELEBOHILE Mofokeng embraces Ronwen Williams after the Bafana captain advised Hugo Broos to send on the Orlando Pirates teenager for his debut. Photo: BackpagePix

RELEBOHILE Mofokeng embraces Ronwen Williams after the Bafana captain advised Hugo Broos to send on the Orlando Pirates teenager for his debut. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 13, 2024


BAFANA Bafana’s fate in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers is in their hands after the team bagged four points from a possible six in their recent games.

This feat was sealed after they beat Zimbabwe 3-1 and drew 1-1 with Nigeria to climb to second place in Group C with seven points, level with Rwanda.

But while the draw with the Super Eagles in Uyo was massive for the team, given the challenges they faced ahead of the game, it was Tuesday night’s win that was largely celebrated.

At a sold-out Free State Stadium, coach Hugo Broos’ men reminded the sporting fraternity why they were once one of the best national teams in the land.

Bafana tore Zimbabwe to shreds as Thapelo Morena scored a second-half brace to secure the team’s win, after Iqraam Rayners had put them ahead in the opening minute, before Tawanda Chirewa’s quick equaliser.

The solid display duly entertained the people of Bloemfontein, who had come out in numbers to enjoy a football game, which something they’ve been starved of since the sale of Bloemfontein Celtic.

While Broos lauded the support as the best he’s had since taking over the reins three years ago, he was thrilled that their World Cup qualifying campaign took shape.

The Belgian believes that if they win all their seven home games – as Zimbabwe and Lesotho are expected to host them here in South Africa – they should qualify for the 2026 finals.

As such, Broos is not reading too much into the results of their opponents, as he believes they can get the job done as long as they focus on their campaign.

“I don’t look at the results of our opponents,” Broos argued.

“I just look at our results, and if they are good, whatever the opponents do is not important.

“So today’s result was important not only because Nigeria lost or (Rwanda won), but it was important for us to win and we did.

“Don’t look at the other results: we won’t qualify by looking at the other results. We will qualify by our own results, and we are on schedule now.

“So, let’s go on next year when the qualifiers resume. And I think if we can maintain this level, then we have a huge chance of qualifying.”

Not only does Broos want his troops to maintain their on-field results, but the camaraderie within the group as well, given the touch of top leadership from captain Ronwen Williams.

The Bafana No 1 pleaded with Broos to hand fan-favourite Relebohile Mofokeng, 19, his first international debut when Bafana were in cruise mode.

That was a touch of superb leadership, so much so that Mofokeng got a delirious standing ovation during his cameo, bringing the team and country together despite playing for Orlando Pirates.

“Yes, the captain came and said, ‘Coach, what do you think, for the last few minutes, maybe, Rele?’ I said, ‘Okay, good idea’, and therefore he came on,” Broos said.

“But that again shows how the atmosphere is in this group. I said already those are 23 friends, and not colleagues. They are friends.

“If they can do something for someone else, they do it. Ronwen did it, I think a year ago with (Melusi) Buthelezi. He came on five minutes before the end of the game in a friendly.”

Bafana’s ability to work together and convert most of their chances also pleased Broos, who believes that they’ll continue to have their fate in their hands if they create chances.

The World Cup qualifiers are so demanding that teams are grouped according to the head-to-head and goal-difference rule, something that requires sides to be clinical in front of goal.

“It was important that we won 3-1 – now we have two more goals. It will help us when we calculate in the end,” Broos explained.

“This means we did a good thing. We had many chances today (on Tuesday), we could have scored the fourth and the fifth.

“But I repeat what we said on Tuesday. The moment we create chances, I am happy. I wouldn’t be happy anymore when we don’t create chances.”