Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has identified the football “problems” South Africa face and told the public. His words and tone bothered a lot of people. It stung. However, his truth bombs may be targeted towards SAFA, the decaying association, writes Tashreeq Vardien.
“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”, is a quote linked to famous novelist George Orwell but not confirmed to be his own words.
The syntax is powerful and holds a lot of weight, much like Hugo Broos’ 45-minute press conference that had tongues wagging across the country (and Twitter).
The Bafana Bafana head coach addressed the South African media on Tuesday following his team’s return from Morocco over the weekend.
The 70-year-old, his technical team and Bafana left the north African nation with a 2-1 defeat against the Atlas Lions in their opening 2023 Africa Cup of Nation qualifier.
It was Broos’ third defeat in his nine official matches in the Bafana dugout, while his time as the senior national mentor has gone beyond the year mark.
But his remarks on Tuesday struck a nerve but also divided a nation.
“I think it’s time now to face the real problem. What is the real problem of South Africa? The real problem of South Africa is that we don’t have those quality players,” Broos confidently told reporters.
He also said: “Therefore, again, let’s face the problem of South Africa, and the problem is that the level of our PSL is not high enough. We don’t make players with high quality.”
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Immediately, the Bafana boss began to trend on Twitter as short video clips of his exact words above made the rounds.
Mamelodi Sundowns star Kermit Erasmus did not hold back and tweeted: “Why do we have a coach that doesn’t believe in our talent and league. Sorry for thinking out loud!”
Masandawana senior coach Steve Komphela voiced his concerns, responding to a journalist on Twitter: “This Coach has been insulting everyone as he wished, and none of you members of the fourth estate saw this coming. Nothing wrong with voicing opinion but please understand that this is a nation and not some cabal in a forest. Where’s intelligence in such reckless statements.”
Many agreed with Erasmus and Komphela’s sentiments, while others backed Broos’ continued candid nature with the South African public.
It is not the first time coach Broos divided and split the football-loving fans in the country in two.
After being announced as head coach on 5 May 2021, Bafana played 16 matches. The first match was an international friendly against Uganda, for which he was not present as he waited for his second vaccination jab in Belgium.
The following six matches were in the Cosafa Cup as South Africa went all the way to win it. Broos could not attend for the same reasons mentioned above but watched all the matches from Belgium as assistant coach Helman Mkhalele oversaw operations.
But Broos got his hands dirty in the last nine matches, seeing what was available to him and in the dugout screaming out instructions.
And yes, he may not have selected the best in-form players available to him on each squad announcement made, which is something we have all pointed out and criticised.
However, many missed what Broos said in his comments after calling out the quality of football players in the country.
“We have to be better, and that’s something we have to do here, sit together, have a meeting with the league, with the PSL coaches, and everyone says what they think about [the problems], and then we solve the problem and say next year we’ll all do this,” Broos continued to speak on Tuesday.
“Everybody … and we try to [develop] better players, and we try that – and in Europe, they will want South African players. I’m [being] very very severe now; in Europe, they don’t want South African players, they want Ghanaians, they want Ivory Coast [players], they want players from Cameroon, those players, Senegal but [not South Africans].
“It has to change! It has to change. And if we succeed, it will not be ten years, but if we start working everyone together for the same goal, you will have results quickly, very quickly.
“We did it in my country [Belgium]. In 2006, we did not have the big players; we weren’t in the European Championship and World Cups anymore, but look what happened; we took measures.
“We saw what we needed, and we did it, and 10 years later, Belgium was first in the rankings of FIFA.
“So, we did something about the problem because it was the same problem [South Africa currently faces].
“We did not have the high-quality players, so we changed something in the development of players. We tried to increase the level of competition; why can’t we do it here?”
I’m in favour of his honesty and what he has experienced working with Bafana Bafana and under the South African Football Association (SAFA).
His truth bombs were brutal to swallow for some, but everyone can agree that he is telling no lies with what he has said in the press conference. People are annoyed with his tone and delivery when speaking, but his first language is not English. However, we can all understand what he means when he talks.
For months, Broos has requested meetings with coaches and clubs, but the process has been slow. It seems to be going nowhere.
The coach is frustrated, and I can’t blame him for having that feeling. He has voiced his concerns to the public but did not mean to hurt or belittle anyone.
Broos’ public protest is really with SAFA, but he won’t directly say that to the media, and he may have been telling the association in private meetings as well.
If not, at least they know now what he thinks.
Dance to a new beat
Still, we, the football-loving public, know there has been an administrative problem with South Africa’s leading football body for over two decades.
SAFA’s ‘Vision 2022′ has failed miserably, which is a conversation for another day; meanwhile, head-honcho Danny Jordan remains favourite to serve another term as the association president when the elective congress takes place next weekend.
Despite the overwhelming amount of talent it has to offer, a lot is wrong with South African football and should be discussed and looked at in great detail.
SAFA has been misrepresenting the truth on many fronts.
I hope Broos’ truth bombs are revolutionary because SAFA doesn’t need a wake-up call; they know how poorly they have underperformed.
It is time the association dances to a new beat.
Broos has identified the problems, but now we need action from SAFA.