Bafana coach Broos questions venue and pitch in Rwanda
Butare stadium’s synthetic pitch is old, says coach
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has questioned the venue of Butare and the condition of the synthetic pitch at the 10,000-seat Stade Huye that will host Rwanda’s 2026 World Cup qualifier against the South Africans on Tuesday.
Nigeria’s huge slip-up started group C with a shock 1-1 draw at home against minnows Lesotho. The team’s same scoreline away against Zimbabwe on Sunday then opened a path for Bafana to the World Cup.
But there is a long way to go and Rwanda, looking to bounce back from their opening goalless draw at home to Zimbabwe, will also want to mount an assault on the first-placed finish that guarantees teams a place in the first 48-team World Cup in Mexico, Canada and the US.
Bafana, who top group C after their 2-1 opening win against Benin in Durban on Saturday, should at least, surprisingly, not have to deal with overbearing heat. Cloudy conditions and temperatures of 23°C are predicted on Tuesday in Butare, some 300km south of the equator, for the 3pm kickoff.
Broos’ concern is mostly over the stadiums synthetic pitch that may be up to 25 years old. He also questioned why the match had to be staged in Rwanda’s fifth-largest town, a three-hour bus ride from Kigali. Bafana’s flight touched down in the capital city at about 9pm on Sunday and they arrived in Butare four-and-a-half hours later.
“It was not an easy trip, like always in Africa,” Broos said. “And, yes, I’m wondering why we have to play here in Butare.
“Secondly, when I saw the footage of Rwanda’s games against Zimbabwe and also in their Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] qualifiers, I saw a very bad pitch.”
Broos will have to juggle injuries, fatigue and players who can turn out in back-to-back games in such conditions in his team selection.
“With the group we have it’s not such a problem. The guys are showing me what they want, which is to go to the World Cup and go far in the Afcon.
“I also think the players have grown in these kinds of situations. I know we will be ready for the game. On the other side, on such a pitch anything can happen. This is something I hope will not happen tomorrow and that the game will be decided — if it’s decided — by something more regular.”
The coach said the variable bounce on the pitch will make it difficult to play on.
“There’s nothing wrong with a synthetic pitch — we played on one in Liberia [in Bafana’s 2-1 Afcon qualifying win in March] that was fantastic.
“That was a new generation synthetic pitch and we didn’t have to complain because it was good. But here it’s a synthetic pitch that is maybe 20- or 25-years old, very bad condition. It’s like you play on the street.
“It’s hard, there are many [types of] bounces of the ball. So, it’s very difficult to play good football and it will be a game [of] fighting football tomorrow.”
The conditions will dictate Broos’ starting line-up. “Tomorrow we need 11 warriors on the pitch. We don’t have to think about nice football.
“Mothobi Mvala went out injured [against Benin], I don’t know if he will be ready for tomorrow. [Maphosa] Modiba was complaining about his knee before the Benin game, but he could play.
“[Evidence] Makgopa also went out against Benin, I think he will be ready for tomorrow.”
The coach said he would examine players’ fitness in Bafana’s last training session on Monday afternoon.
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