Radebe smitten by Broos’ Bafana’s rise

BAFANA Bafana legend Lucas Radebe during the Afcon 2023 qualifiers group stage draw points out similarities to the current Bafana and that of 1996. BackpagePix

BAFANA Bafana legend Lucas Radebe during the Afcon 2023 qualifiers group stage draw points out similarities to the current Bafana and that of 1996. BackpagePix

Published Jun 24, 2024


THE Stars have aligned for Bafana Bafana and South African football at large since the year began with the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ivory Coast.

Qualifying for the latest edition of the Afcon was a big enough achievement for the national men’s team having missed the previous edition in Cameroon.

As a result, going into the Ivory Coast finals, there was very little expectation and hope in the side pushing the envelope or being podium contenders.

However, Bafana shocked the continent as they not only reached the semi-finals but also finished in third place and earning the bronze medal in Africa’s premier tournament.

Tracing back the steps that led to that success, it is difficult to overlook Broos’s impact since taking over the head coach role three years ago.

The unapologetic straight-talker and Belgium-born manager’s systems and structures have somehow reignited the love and support for the national team in the country.

During the Afcon, Mzansi tuned in on their television screens to support Bafana.

The home fixtures of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, the Zimbabwe fixture in particular, saw a sold-out Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein and that was testament of the country’s hunger and passion for Bafana.

Lucas Radebe, speaking at the Betway 12th Man event in Melrose earlier this week – an event aimed at empowering retired athletes for life after professional sport – expressed that Bafana is in a healthy position following this year’s Afcon.

The 55-year-old reckons that the success stems partly from the consistency of the personnel that make up the starting XI, emphasising that the next challenge for the national team is to sustain their success.

“I believe the risk that has been taken in acquiring a coach like Hugo Broos has seen success and what we need to achieve now is continued consistency in the squad.

“Even today, you can name number one to number 11 in the starting line-up which is very important,” said Radebe.

“Once you do that, you play even better; whether you win or lose, you tend to play better. That’s what we’ve seen with the national team, it changed people’s perspective.

“The fans now think positively about Bafana Bafana. Now people want to support Bafana and we are happy.

“But how do we sustain that? That’s the challenge.

“I believe we have talent in the country, enough resources that will take us to the next Afcon and the next World Cup.”

Radebe says there are parallels that can be drawn between the current crop of Bafana players and the Neil Tovey-led squad that won the 1996 Afcon.

The 55-year-old highlighted unity and camaraderie as some of the common denominators between the two generations and emphasised the two factors as key reasons for success.

“You see the unity of the players in the consistency and the camaraderie. It’s amazing. For me it’s a recipe for success,” said Radebe.

“Get your best team first and get them to play well and keep them for a period of time so that they can gel together, and that’s what I’ve seen,” he concluded.