Hugo Broos announced his Bafana Bafana squad for the decisive FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana on Tuesday afternoon, showing once again that he is willing to go against the grain.
There were recalls and call-ups for some players who have been overlooked since Broos was hired as Bafana Bafana head coach, while other players who he has been generous to in the past were overlooked this time.
South Africa and Ghana are the only two teams in Group G who can still make the final round of qualifying. Bafana are one point ahead of the Black Stars, which means that two wins from two would secure South Africa’s spot in the playoffs.
Dolly And Tau Return
Perhaps the main takeaway from the squad is the inclusion of Kaizer Chiefs winger Keagan Dolly. His career had come to a near standstill during an injury-ridden stint at Montpellier, but his form since Amakhosi brought him back to South Africa has earned him another shot in the national team.
Aged only 28, Dolly is certainly worthy of it on talent alone. He will be joined in the squad by former Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Percy Tau, who has also undergone an African homecoming and revival of sorts, starting off his Al Ahly career in blistering form after a frustrating time at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Mabasa Doesn’t Make The Cut
Tshegofatso Mabasa can count himself unlucky not to have played a more central role for Bafana Bafana in recent years. However, he appeared to be in Hugo Broos’ good books until he was hauled off after 35 minutes of a 3-1 win over Ethiopia.
Interestingly, Broos acknowledged to SABC that Mabasa has been lacking in confidence and missing chances he would usually score since that humiliation. However, rather than attempt to bring his self-esteem back, Broos has handed him the responsibility of building it himself, opting to select an in-form attacking force.
At such a crucial time for South Africa’s World Cup hopes, it is difficult to fault the Belgian mentor even for the most ruthless of decisions.
Another big-name attacker to miss out is Luther Singh, whose recent passport issues and lack of playing time at club level for FC Copenhagen likely counted against him.
Sithole And Phethe Seize Their Chance
Thibang ‘Cafu’ Phete and Sphephelo Sithole, both of Belenenses in Portugal, have made the squad in defence and midfield respectively. Neither were in the last squad and while their inclusion has been a long time coming, it was bold of Broos to do it at such a crucial point.
Mothobi Mvala will be disappointed to miss out, but there will undoubtedly be more opportunities for the Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder, who has been struggling with niggling injury problems.