Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos relishes the opportunity of playing against the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations hosts, Ivory Coast, in their own backyard later this month.
The South African Football Association has lined up two friendly internationals for the national team in October as part of the preparations for the two FIFA World Cup qualifiers in November.
Bafana Bafana will host Eswatini in an international friendly next month, before travelling to West Africa to face Ivory Coast a few days later.
With next year’s Africa Cup of Nations just over three months away, Broos will not tamper too much with the core of his team.
Broos used two completely different sides for the two friendlies played last month against Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Last time there were injuries to seven key players, and now there are only three injuries.
Defenders Thapelo Morena and Innocent Maela, as well as midfielder Bathusi Oubaas are unavailable due to injuries.
“We had seven last month so this is not good but on the other side eighty percent, 85% of the team is there so I am happy with it and it will be two good games to prepare for the qualifiers next month.”
The short-term goal is to sufficiently prepare the team for back-to-back 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Benin and Rwanda.
But the long-term goal is to get the team ready for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in January……
“The other game is a game against maybe a favourite to win the AFCON because they are playing in their own country and they have a very good team. We will play in a full stadium I think so the atmosphere will be different so it will be an interesting game for us and also against a very good opponent,” Broos adds.
Broos will be following the AFCON draw with keen interest.
The draw for the 24 participating nations will be held in Abidjan next Thursday.
“It’s amazing that we are in pot 3 I don’t understand why we have to be in pot 2 before the game of Namibia and the DRC and the DRC won the game against Sudan and lost against us; and we played a draw and won against the DRC and DRC are jumping over us. This is not good I rather be in pot 2 so we will be drawn with two very big teams but on the other side with AFCON you know that the first two teams go through. So yes, we have to beat a big team when we are there.”
The selected squad of 23 players is dominated by Mamelodi Sundowns players. There are seven Sundowns players on the team.
Broos has tipped the run-away log leaders to win their seventh league title in a row.
“I think there are no changes in what happened last year and the year before sundowns is strong, very strong they will be champions again, and think that is also not good for South African football because they win too easily their games. i don’t say they don’t have to make efforts but they win them.”
The senior national coach will be keeping his fingers crossed that no injuries are reported after Saturday’s MTN8 final between Orlando Pirates and Sundowns.
Pirates have four players in the Bafana Bafana squad, including a first call-up for defender Paseka Mako.