Bafana's date with destiny looms large on the horizon: 'We are so close now'

14 November 2021 - 12:36
South Africa coach Hugo Broos
South Africa coach Hugo Broos
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

The seconds are ticking down to Bafana Bafana's crunch 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana on Sunday night and coach Hugo Broos is well aware of how close his charges are to achieving a feat that many had believed to be impossible a few months ago.

Few would have bet on Bafana making a strong bid for qualifying for the World Cup in the beginning of the year, with the failure to qualify for next year's Africa Cup of Nations in March suggesting a team in rapid decline.

But after Broos succeeded Molefi Ntseki in May and embarked on a brave rebuilding exercise that has already defied expectations, the team has surged to the summit in Group G with a 13-point haul going into the last game in the group on Sunday.

A win or a draw in the final qualifier in Cape Coast would enable Bafana to pip second-placed Ghana to the finish line and secure a place in the decisive Fifa play-offs that will determine Africa's five representatives at the World Cup in Qatar.

Broos admitted that they are so close to achieving the feat and stumbling at this delicate stage of the difficult journey is not an option.

“We have run a really good race until now and we have only lost two points [during the qualifiers]," said the Belgian mentor.

"It was in our first game against Zimbabwe [the two teams drew 0-0 in Harare in September] and I did not know the team [at the time], the team did not know me,” he said.

“But if you look at what we have done from that moment until now, [we have done] a very good job. I know that the team will be ready for [Sunday's away final qualifier].”

Bafana beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in the return match at FNB Stadium on Thursday night in a game that even Broos admitted was not easy to watch.

It was a laboured performance that drew a lot of criticism from observers who felt that the team played in patches, did not impose themselves on proceedings and were fortunate that the Zimbabweans did not make better use of the many chances they created.

“We did not play so well on Thursday [at home at FNB Stadium against Zimbabwe] and it is a pity,” Broos admitted candidly.

“We should have played our level and maybe scored more goals and [made it] more difficult for Ghana on Sunday.

"But OK it was our mistake, but I think because we did not play so well on Thursday, the boys will be very ambitious to show something.

"We are so close now. So we will do everything, everything to qualify for the next round.”

Broos insisted that the pressure will be on the hosts as Ghana are always expected to play in every World Cup, and many would have tipped them to win the group when the draw was announced.

“I have said it already that the job is not done and it is fantastic what we have done until now,” he said. “I think for Ghana they have to be in the next round [of the World Cup qualifiers].

“They are always [playing] in World Cups, so it is a team that has a lot of experience and for them it is big problem if they are not in the next round. So the pressure is on them.”