Hugo Broos announced arguably the most surprising squad of his tenure in charge of Bafana Bafana for the friendlies against Sierra Leone and Botswana.
Although uncompromising as ever in his media statements, Broos showed that he is willing to try new ideas with the inclusion of several players who he has controversially overlooked in the past.
Better Late Than Never?
Broos was wise to call on Luke le Roux and Mihlali Mayambela, though these are selections that he probably should have explored sooner.
At 26 years old, Mayambela is no longer a mere prospect but a player who should be approaching his peak. However, it is le Roux (22) who likely has the brighter future, featuring his best years, still ahead of him.
The midfielder has made 66 Allsvenskan (Swedish top flight) appearances for Varbergs BoIS and 70 in all competitions since joining from SuperSport United just over two and a half years ago.
The dependable le Roux will likely be the future of Bafana Bafana’s midfield and it is imperative that Broos gives him proper time to prove that he is ready to wear the shirt.
Other new faces in the squad include goalkeeper Melusi Buthelezi (TS Galaxy), midfielder Sibongiseni Mthethwa (Stellenbosch FC), and striker Zakhele Lepasa (Orlando Pirates).
Themba Zwane, on the other hand, is no stranger to Bafana colours, but it is nonetheless surprising that Broos has changed track and welcomed the 33-year-old back into the fold. Speaking to SABC Sport about this decision, he said: “Only fools don’t change their minds. We also don’t have Tau, Makgopa, Fagrie , Hlongwane, so it’s the right time.”
Andile Jali Saga
Most supporters will likely be happy with Broos’ selections by and large, but one fan favourite left out again is Andile Jali. Regarding the Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder, Broos said: “As far as Jali coming back, it’s a no. I can’t disrespect the team.”
Broos may have his reasons for disregarding Jali’s selection hopes, but having recently had to backtrack on comments he made regarding the quality of South African football, he ought to choose his words more carefully. The narrative of a vendetta against one of Bafana’s midfield options puts pressure on Broos’ preferred players to perform and is dangerous for team morale.
Overall, however, Bafana have a promising squad and will be disappointed unless they win both friendlies.
Bafana Bafana Squad:
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (Mamelodi Sundowns), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Melusi Buthelezi (TS Galaxy)
Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sekhukhune United), Terrence Mashego (Cape Town City), Thibang Phete (Al Bataeh, United Arab Emirates), Rushine de Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns), Aubrey Modiba (Mamelodi Sundowns), Khuliso Mudau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Nkosinathi Sibisi (Orlando Pirates), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Sibongiseni Mthethwa (Stellenbosch FC), Goodman Mosele (Orlando Pirates), Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal), Teboho Mokoena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Luke le Roux (Varbergs BoIS, Sweden)
Forwards: Khanyisa Mayo (Cape Town City), Lyle Foster (KVC Westerlo, Belgium), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Zakhele Lepasa (Orlando Pirates), Mihlali Mayambela (Aris Limassol, Cyprus), Pule Mmodi (Golden Arrows), Kgaogelo Sekgota (Kaizer Chiefs)