Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos believes his young team is ready to face tough opposition‚ even in an intimidating atmosphere‚ after the experience they gained playing six 2022 World Cup qualifiers and friendlies against France and Guinea in France early this year.
After failing to reach the World Cup in Qatar‚ Bafana shift their focus to qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ivory Coast. Their journey will start on Thursday in Rabat, where they face Morocco‚ one of the five sides that will represent Africa in the World Cup in November and December.
Liberia are the other team in Bafana’s group and the two sides will clash in consecutive matches in September with the winner likely to qualify alongside Morocco for the 2023 Afcon.
Broos admitted he was disappointed to lose against Ghana in the final World Cup qualifying group match. SA needed a draw to reach the final play-off stage, which determined the five teams that will represent the continent in Qatar.
He said the experience gained by his many young call-ups in the World Cup qualifiers‚ and in front of 40‚000 noisy home fans in Lille in the 5-0 drubbing by France‚ provided an excellent grounding for the Afcon qualifiers.
“We had players who had never played for Bafana before but now they’ve played six games. We had to start somewhere when we began in September and I knew it’s a young team without experience‚” Broos said.
“It was expected we could lose one game because we lacked experience and it happened. But we learnt a lot out of that.”
The Belgian said he is disappointed with how some people reacted after the humbling against France in March.
“I was so angry that people thought we could beat France with all their big players who are playing all over Europe. I hoped we wouldn’t lose but I said to myself that it’s OK and it’s not important. The experience my players had in that game is something you can’t get anywhere.
“They had to feel it. It’s been very good to play six qualifiers for the World Cup and those two friendly games against Guinea and France. I think we know what it’s all about and I’m confident.”
Broos expects a tough match against a Moroccan side ranked 24th in the world and second on the continent.
“Morocco are a very good team but with modern technology you can have as much as possible information about your opponent‚” he said.
“We must start to look at many games of Morocco so we know their players‚ we know their team very well.
“It’s a good team and we have a plan and we’ll be happy if our plan can succeed on Thursday. We know what we have to do. One thing that’s very important is to have the right mentality and confidence because when you go to Morocco with fear it’s better that you stay here.”