Bafana coach Broos admits ‘mistake’ on Themba Zwane, one of the best players he’s coached

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says Themba Zwane (pictured) is one of the best players he has coached.
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos says Themba Zwane (pictured) is one of the best players he has coached.

Hugo Broos has admitted he made a mistake overlooking Mamelodi Sundowns star Themba Zwane at the start of the Bafana Bafana coach's tenure, saying he is a player he regards as one of the best he’s coached.

When Broos arrived in South Africa in May 2021 he prioritised selecting younger players to rebuild the side and overlooked older stars, including Zwane, now 34, despite his starring performances for the Brazilians.

Broos gave opportunities to young players such as Goodman Mosele, Ethan Brooks, Yusuf Maart, Njabulo Blom, Luke le Roux and Thabani Zuke, who have all missed out on a place in the Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) starting in Ivory Coast on January 11. 

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos admits he got it wrong on Themba Zwane, the team’s chances at Afcon, his playing philosophy, dealing with South African players, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates must catch-up with Mamelodi Sundowns, Sundowns will win the league again and MORE. #bafanabafana #afcon2023 #afcon2024 #football #kaizerchiefs #orlandopirates #hugobroos #primesportswithmahlatse

Zwane made a return to Bafana for the first time in more than a year in September 2022 and inspired them to a convincing 4-0 win over Sierra Leone in a friendly, with Broos admitting he was the missing link in his team.   

After announcing his Afcon squad last week, Broos said leaving Zwane out of the team initially was a mistake, but there were reasons for it. 

“It was not about Themba Zwane as a player, it was about his age,” he said. 

“I was thinking that in two years we are playing Afcon and there is also [the] World Cup — will he be fit at that moment? It can happen that when a player is 32 or 33 he can be finished. 

“For me the reason [Zwane is back in the squad] was that there is no-one else who is younger. I know I cut my own finger and I admit it, but you see he is still fit now. It is amazing for someone of his age and he has become an important player for us.

“It is maybe the only big mistake I have made since I have been here, but there was a reason. I saw he was a good player, but it is in the past and I am a human being and only fools can’t change their minds.”

Throughout his career, Broos, who won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon, has coached many players, including some of Belgium's biggest stars. He said Zwane is one of the best he has worked with.

“The best player I have coached is [former Manchester City star] Vincent Kompany, there is no doubt. I have coached many good players in my career, he [Kompany] was good and certainly because he was only 17 years old when I knew him.

“When I left Anderlecht he was only 19, but he was a talented player and you can see how his career panned out. As for an African player, this is not easy and maybe you will say I am picking him because I am here in South Africa.

“But in football quality, I would say Themba [Zwane]. You don’t have to tell him so much. I certainly don't tell him much, I just ask him to go out there and play football.

“He knows where he has to be, what he has to do when he is on the pitch. He feels it because he is technically good; he is a good player, he can give the pass and he can score.

“He is a very good football player.”

Bafana open their Afcon group E campaign against Mali at Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo on January 16 (10pm SA time), then meet Namibia on January 21 and Tunisia on January 24.


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