Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos during the squad announcement at Safa House in Johannesburg August 19 2021. Picture: VELI NHLAPO
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos during the squad announcement at Safa House in Johannesburg August 19 2021. Picture: VELI NHLAPO

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos kept to his promise of an emphasis on youth, naming a 31-man preliminary squad for the team’s first two 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The Belgian takes charge of his first two matches against Zimbabwe in Harare on September 3 (kickoff 3pm), and Ghana at FNB Stadium on September 6 (kickoff 6pm). A final squad will be named in about two weeks.

Brighton’s Percy Tau, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Thapelo Morena and Orlando Pirates’ Innocent Maela stood out as more experienced campaigners who played a role in Broos’s predecessor Molefi Ntseki’s failed 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

Broos named interesting defensive prospects Thibang Phete (Belenenses, Portugal), Thabani Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo (both Kaizer Chiefs) and Sibusiso Mabiliso (AmaZulu).

The midfield, especially, has an emphasis on youth from the coach who won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon with a young team missing many front-line stars.

These included Kobamelo Kodisang (Braga B, Portugal), Sipho Mbule (Supersport United), Teboho Mokoena (Supersport United), Mothobi Mvala and Sphelele Mkhulise (both Mamelodi Sundowns). Also young prospects for the middle of the park were Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy) and Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune United).

The forwards, too, included young prospects Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United), Gift Links (Aarhus, Denmark)  and Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC).

“We have to prepare a young and victorious team and qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” Broos said. “But we have a tough group with three teams who qualified for the Nations Cup next year, so it can be that we don’t qualify [for Qatar]. But we will try to do everything that we can to qualify.

Hugo Broos (centre) with assistants Cedomir Janevski and Helman Mkhalele at the squad announcement in Johannesburg. Picture: VELI NHLAPO
Hugo Broos (centre) with assistants Cedomir Janevski and Helman Mkhalele at the squad announcement in Johannesburg. Picture: VELI NHLAPO

“And if we don’t qualify, I think these games will be a fantastic experience for the players and prepare us well to qualify for the Nations Cup in 2023.”

Broos said he saw some prospects and “gained a lot of information” watching the games of the Bafana developmental team that won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha and SA Under-24 team that exited in the opening round of the Tokyo Olympics in the past two months.

His squad combined elements of both those tournaments and the Bafana that beat Uganda 3-2 in a friendly at FNB Stadium under assistant Helman Mkhalele in May.

Bafana Bafana preliminary squad

Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams, Veli Mothwa, Bruce Bvuma, Sifiso Mlungwana

Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie, Rushine De Reuck, Thapelo Morena, Siyanda Xulu, Thibang Phete, Thabani Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo, Mosa Lebusa, Sibusiso Mabiliso, Innocent Maela

Midfielders: Kobamelo Kodisang, Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena, Mothobi Mvala, Sphelele Mkhulise, Sphephelo Sithole, Njabulo Blom, Ethan Brooks, Yusuf Maart, Siyethemba Sithebe

Forwards: Thabiso Kutumela, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Gift Links, Evidence Makgopa, Victor Letsoala, Percy Tau, Luther Singh


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