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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos named his final squad for his team's first two 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos named his final squad for his team's first two 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Hugo Broos has announced his trimmed-down 23-man squad for Bafana Bafana’s two opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers and included Percy Tau because he said he had heard the Brighton player will be moving to Egypt’s Al Ahly.     

Broos, appointed to lead the national side in May, takes charge of his first two matches against Zimbabwe in Harare on September 3 and Ghana at FNB Stadium three days later.

The coach said, after cutting eight players from his young 31-man preliminary squad named last week, that he is concerned about Tau’s lack of game time at English Premier League outfit Brighton and Hove Albion.

Broos said he has heard that Tau’s reported loan move to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, coached by the player’s ex-Mamelodi Sundowns boss Pitso Mosimane, will go through soon.

“He’s an important player for Bafana Bafana,” Broos said. “If Percy will not play in the next month I have a problem. But I heard some good news. I think he will not stay at Brighton and will go to an Egyptian team with SA coach Pitso Mosimane, Al Ahly.

“I think in the next days it will be done and then he will have his chance to play. Then there will be a problem less.”

The eight players cut from his original squad include two ruled out by injury — the defensive pair of Orlando Pirates’ Innocent Maela and Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mosa Lebusa. A third, midfielder Sphelelo Sithole of Belenenses in Portugal, has Covid-19.

The other five were Lamontville Golden Arrows goalkeeper Sifiso Mlungwana, Kaizer Chiefs centre-back Njabulo Ngcobo, Braga midfielder Kobamelo Kodisang, AmaZulu midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe and Sundowns midfielder Sphelele Mkhulise.

Broos was asked about the exclusion of Chiefs signee Ngcobo, the 2020-2021 Premiership defender of the season for Swallows FC.

“Yes, but that will not say he will not be there the next time,” the coach said. “I have 31 players and I have to choose [who to cut].

“Sometimes you will make a choice that is tactical, sometimes it’s because you need a certain type of defender. That’s what happened with Ngcobo.

“I know he’s a good defender and he will get a chance in the coming months. Maybe there will also be other players disappointed, but this is my first choice [naming a Bafana squad], so I made a choice.

“Maybe after Ghana I will say to myself, ‘Maybe this one or this one I shouldn’t have selected’. A first choice is always a first choice. This is not the final choice, certainly not.”

Broos’s squad combines elements of the Bafana developmental side that won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha, the team that beat Uganda in a friendly at FNB Stadium in May, and the under-24 side that took part in the Tokyo Olympics.

The midfield in particular, where there is no room for 28-year-old Bongani Zungu and 32-year-old Themba Zwane, is young and inexperienced. However, Teboho Mokoena, Sipho Mbule, Mothobi Mvala and Yusuf Maart have potential.

Ethiopia are the fourth team in Group G. The 10 group winners progress to a final round where they will be drawn in five home and away playoff matches. The winners will advance to the Qatar World Cup scheduled for November 21 to December 18 in 2022. 

Bafana Bafana squad

Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs).

Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sundowns), Rushine De Reuck (Sundowns), Thapelo Morena (Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Njabulo Blom (Chiefs), Thibang Phete (Os Belenenses), Thabani Dube  (Chiefs), Sibusiso Mabiliso (Chiefs).

Midfielders: Sipho Mbule (SuperSport), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Mothobi Mvala (Sundowns), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune).

Forwards: Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg), Gift Links (Aarhus GF), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka), Victor Letsoala (Royal AM), Percy Tau (Brighton), Luther Singh (FC Copenhagen), Thabiso Kutumela (Sundowns).