Tshegofatso Mabasa in action. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX
Tshegofatso Mabasa in action. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has explained why he substituted Tshegofatso Mabasa early in the World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia on Saturday.

Eyebrows were raised when Mabasa exited the Bahir Dar Stadium pitch after just 35 minutes and observers assumed an injury to the Orlando Pirates player may have forced Broos’s hand.

But the Belgian said injury had nothing to do with the decision and he was forced to make the early change when he noticed Mabasa was struggling to adapt to the plan they had prepared for the East Africans.

“I know it was a little disappointing for Tshegofatso but he had difficulties,” Broos said, adding it was for the player’s benefit and that he had explained this to Tshegofatso.

“We trained on it [the plan for Ethiopia] ... but I do not think he really understood what we asked from him. And therefore we had to change him after half an hour.”

The coach said he was forced to think on his feet during the tough encounter and to improvise, including just moments before kickoff.

Vincent Pule was to start but got injured during the warm-up moments before kickoff and was replaced by Thabiso Kutumela. Broos was impressed that Kutumela adapted quickly to the late change and made his presence felt 

“It’s always a bad thing that just before kickoff you have to change a player because he’s injured‚” he said. “And also for the team‚ because everyone is concentrated to start the game and then suddenly 10 minutes before there’s someone who was injured. I was a little afraid but Kutumela did very well.”

Bafana are top of Group G after the win in Ethiopia with seven points and lead second-placed Ghana by a point after three matches played in the qualifiers.

Ghana managed to keep Bafana in their sights after beating Zimbabwe 3-1 in their match at Cape Coast Sports Stadium, also on Saturday.

Bafana host Ethiopia in the return fixture at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

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