Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has been making headlines with his ‘honest and refreshing’ outlook on South African football. He’s cast aspersions and made some serious allegations which, reportedly, resulted in his frustrations ahead of the back-to-back 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia on Saturday and yesterday (Tuesday).
It has become clear that the Belgian’s stint at the helm of Bafana so far has not been a bed of roses, if his recent statements and ‘revelations’, if you will, are anything to go by. Firstly, the coach says he wanted to have a meeting with all the PSL coaches but he was told it was impossible to do so. A meeting with fellow coaches should be a top priority for any new national team head coach, where ideas would be exchanged and a long-lasting relationship between him and club coaches would be established. A meeting of understanding and vision is of critical importance between these two, but why was that not done? Why did that meeting not happen? Coach Broos hasn’t answered these simple questions as he didn’t really dwell on the matter, to provide full details, which was disappointing. Club coaches are some of the people Broos will need the most if he is to succeed in his job as they are the ones who deal with players daily. Who told him the meeting was impossible and what were the reasons given to him? Was it the PSL coaches, PSL or SAFA? Your guess is as good as mine. When such statements are made without any specific details, they are left open to interpretation, which is both unfortunate and dangerous. The coach also claimed that it looks like some people don’t want to see Bafana doing well – really? You’re being sabotaged by who, for what? Give us facts, not emotions, please coach! We need to unpack these utterances and deal with whoever is responsible. Making sweeping statements isn’t helping anyone, at all.
Coach Broos publicly lamented a recent incident where he was refused entry to Orlando Stadium when Orlando Pirates hosted Mamelodi Sundowns and the whole thing was blown completely out of proportion. There are protocols that have to be respected by everyone, including national team coaches, and that’s just the way it is. COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges and this is the ‘new normal’ that we all have to get used to. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to obey the restrictions as stipulated by the government and the PSL manual. If there has to be 150 people at a match venue, that’s the only number that will be accommodated. Prior arrangements have to be made and you can’t use your title or position to bend the rules. It is that simple and Pirates have since set the record straight on the matter, with the PSL issuing an apology for dropping the ball in facilitating and confirming the coach’s attendance in advance. A perception, a dangerous one at that, had already been created that Pirates were against the national team head coach, but the PSL’s apology proved that the incident had absolutely nothing to do with Pirates or Dr Irvin Khoza being the SAFA deputy president, as suggested by the 69-year-old Bafana mentor.
There was also the Pule Mmodi passport issue. First of all, Mmodi is 28, playing for Golden Arrows and you publicly chastise him for not having a passport. What are the chances that he’s going to form part of Bafana Bafana when the coach made it clear that he would be cutting on age in Bafana and select young players? You overlook an in-form Themba Zwane because he’s 32 and you select a 28-year-old? Where’s the consistency? Pule is not a youngster, so what message are you sending out? When you publicly vilify him for not having a passport, do you expect the same player to give his all for you one day? Probably not, because of an attitude. A condescending attitude at that! Zwane has international and continental experience under his belt and ranks among the best players in the country, but age has been the reason for his exclusion.
When it comes to Goodman Mosele not reporting for camp, you’d think it is a simple issue, but it proved otherwise. If you’re sending a call-up to Orlando Pirates for three of their players and one doesn’t show up, don’t you think it is the sensible and logical thing for Bafana’s team manager to call Pirates and find out what’s going on rather than the coach rushing to the media asking about the player’s whereabouts? This is where a relationship between the national team coach and his club counterparts would be so ideal because a simple phone call between the two would have resolved the issue right there and then, even without the club getting involved. The player could have been in an accident or even hijacked, but you choose to go public without covering your bases, at the very least. It can’t even be an issue of a relationship between the coach and the club because two of the three Pirates players called up were in camp. That’s where the team manager comes in, calls the club and finds out what’s going on. There’s no way Pirates didn’t know about the player’s whereabouts.
The coach also took a swipe at Mamelodi Sundowns for Thabiso Kutumela getting his vaccination during a FIFA break. Sundowns have the right to vaccinate their players and in their infinite wisdom, they were not going to be sitting and hoping that their players get called up and therefore leave the FIFA calendar open, just in case. They have their own programme and, at best, it is wise to use the FIFA break to vaccinate players who joined the club after pre-season as this is time for injured players to recover. There’s domestic league, a cup final as well as the CAF Champions League to prepare for after the FIFA break. That’s how Sundowns looked at their programme and who can blame them for using this period to their benefit? You’ve got to be joking to try and make your problem Sundowns’! You can’t disrespect clubs like that and claim that the FIFA break only belongs to the national teams when you didn’t do your homework. Once again, with a good relationship between the coaches, there would have been foresight to speed up the player’s vaccination so that it doesn’t clash with the national team coach’s preparations. Luckily, Kutumela made the team without any hassles, notwithstanding the hullabaloo that preceded his call-up.
Responsible utterances and approach is of critical importance for everyone, especially those who are holding powerful positions. Reckless comments without facts are both misleading and dangerous as they are open to interpretation and therefore fuel unnecessary fire. The recent unsubstantiated comments by the coach cause more harm than good for the national team and everyone involved because the very same teams and players he’s casting aspersion on are the ones he’s going to need the most. It is one thing to be transparent and honest, but a whole different thing when you’re reckless and negligent. Facts over emotions, coach! Speaking with authority as though just because you’re from Europe, you know better than anyone else is tantamount to arrogance that borders on a condescending attitude towards the very same people you need to do your job!