‘I don’t like pap,’ says Bafana coach Broos — but life in SA ‘10 times better than Cameroon’

22 February 2024 - 08:15
By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos during the national team's arrival at OR Tambo International Airport on February 14 from winning bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Image: Veli Nhlapo Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos during the national team's arrival at OR Tambo International Airport on February 14 from winning bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos loves life in South Africa but is not a fan of pap and also would not risk engaging in his passion for cycling as the hectic traffic in Johannesburg is too dangerous, he says.

Broos said South Africans seem to not always be aware how good life is in South Africa, which he described as “10 times better than Cameroon”.

The 71-year-old Belgian left for a two-week break in his home country on Monday after following up his 2017 Africa Cup of Nations victory with a young Cameroon side with a shock bronze medal for then world 66th and African 12th-ranked Bafana in Ivory Coast this month.

Before his departure, late last week, he told a round table of South African football writers he wants to scale down his time spent in South Africa now.

“I will take a break. I will have contact with [Bafana assistant coach] Helman [Mkhalele],” Broos said about his immediate plans.

“Two weeks in Belgium and then I will come back and it’s the usual thing — going to PSL games, games of players on the laptop, preparing for the friendlies in Algeria [against Andorra and Algeria in March] and those two important World Cup qualifying games [against Zimbabwe and Nigeria in June].

“I am a grandfather and I miss my grandchildren. So Monday morning when I arrive in Belgium they will be there at the airport.

“I have told [Safa] president [Danny Jordaan] I will not be so long in South Africa [in the future]. It’s impossible. I miss my family. I can stay four, five weeks.

“And he agreed I shouldn’t be here so long. Also, maybe I don’t need to be here as long because I know the PSL now and the players.”

Broos was asked how he has experienced life in South Africa.

“[It’s] 10 times better than Cameroon. What makes me very happy is here I can live like I do in Belgium. I couldn’t do that in Cameroon.

“It was impossible. I don’t have to tell you how the real African cities are. OK, Joburg is not safe — but I don’t live in Joburg [central], I live in Sandton. So I can go on the street, do groceries, go to a restaurant. I couldn’t do that in Cameroon.

“Life here is 10 times better than Cameroon. People ask me, ‘How is South Africa?’ I say, ‘If I were to take you there blindfolded and put you on the street in Sandton and asked where you were, you would never say South Africa’.

“Because it’s so good. This is a good life here in this country. I have everything I need, except my family. For the rest I don’t have complaints — I live exactly the same as in Belgium.

“So that won’t be the reason [when] one day I leave — that I don’t like the life in South Africa. Really, I’m very happy here.”

Broos said he has been getting to know and like South African music, culture and food.

“The real South African food I like — there are some chicken plates with vegetables and those kinds of things.

“I don’t like pap. I’m always surprised with the players and they have [so much] pap on their plates and I think, ‘Is he going to eat that?’

“For me it doesn’t have a taste. Or am I wrong? Then I saw the chakalaka, so I put it — I like it a bit more like that but this is something that’s not for me.”

He said one of the few activities he feels he cannot take part in, in South Africa, is cycling, which the former Belgium international, who was part of their famous squad that reached the 1986 World Cup semifinals in Mexico, does at home to keep fit.

“Since I’m here my bike is at the house. In Belgium I cycle 100km or 120km.

“I think, when I see the traffic here, it’s a bit dangerous. Otherwise I would have brought my bike. But you can’t here, it’s too dangerous with the traffic.

“That is another thing here. In Belgium when you [a pedestrian] go onto a zebra crossing, the car stops. Not here.

“Twice I was nearly [run over]. And I slapped my hand on his car saying, ‘You fool!’ And then he saw who I was and said, ‘Hey coach!’ I said, ‘Yes, you nearly killed me!’”