Bafana overseas brigade ticks all the boxes

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is confident that he can qualify South Africa for the next Afcon tournament.
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is confident that he can qualify South Africa for the next Afcon tournament.


Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos says he sits down every Monday to monitor the progress of South African players who are based overseas.

The 70-year-old Belgian coach has expressed his happiness that most of them are starting to command regular playing time at their clubs.

Broos has called up seven overseas-based players in his 23-player squad for the back-to-back Afcon qualifiers against Liberia next week.

Bafana will host the Liberians at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday, before travelling to Monrovia for the return match on March 28.

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The overseas brigade includes the US-based duo of Njabulo Blom and Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who play for St Louis City SC and Minnesota in the Major League Soccer (MLS), respectively, as well as Lyle Foster, who scored his first goal for Burnley last week in the English Championship.

Luke Le Roux (Varbergs BoIS, Sweden), Mihlali Mayambela (Aris Limassol, Cyprus), Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses, Portugal) and Siyanda Xulu (Turan Tovuz, Azerbaijan) complete the international set.

Foster, who joined Burnley from Belgian side Westerlo in January, scored his first goal for the Lancashire club in a 3-0 win over Wigan Athletic at the weekend.

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Striker Hlongwane has played two games for Minnesota and scored against New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

Defensive midfielder Blom has played two and missed one of St Louis’ opening three matches of the new MLS season.

Meanwhile, Le Roux’s Varbergs are struggling in second from bottom of the log, but the 23-year-old central midfielder has started all three opening matches of the Swedish league.

Le Roux has played two of those matches as captain.

READ: Bafana to use charter flight to Liberia for crucial 2023 Afcon qualifier

Mayambela continues to progress well in Cyprus. He has scored two goals in 21 league matches for Aris Limassol.

Not many players get to debut for Bafana Bafana on their first invitation to the national team’s camp, but that’s what Mayambela did.

The striker capped his maiden appearance with a goal in the 4-0 rout of Sierra Leone in an international friendly and made his second Bafana appearance by coming on as a second-half substitute in a scrappy 1-0 win over Botswana in August last year.

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Defensive midfielder Sithole has racked up 17 appearances in all competitions for division two side Belenenses, while center back Xulu has played 20 times for his midtable Turan.

“It’s a very good thing that our overseas-based players are playing now in their teams. That’s the most important thing.”

“We all know that the competition there [is tough, therefore], most of them ... who are playing abroad, they are stronger than the competition here. They are progressing a lot,” said Broos.

The veteran tactician said playing for Bafana was a level-up from playing in the PSL.

He said: 

It is even higher than the CAF Champions League level. We need those players with experience who play very intense games. It is a lot of work. Every Monday, we look at what the players did around the world [and] see the games.

For example, Broos said, he has been monitoring Portugal-based player Kobamelo Kodisang, who is doing well for division two log leaders Moreirense FC.

Another player on his radar is Luther Singh, who has scored one goal in 20 games in all competition for Chavez, who are struggling in midtable in the Portuguese premier league.

Broos said: “It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it because you can find better players than you have at that moment for certain positions.”

“We will continue to work. Let’s hope that we find better players because it means the level of Bafana Bafana will increase also.”

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