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‘Honestly, I am not happy’: Bafana coach Broos wants clarity on Foster

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos embraces attacker Themba Zwane after their victory in the Africa Cup of Nations third place playoff match against Democratic Republic of the Congo at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos embraces attacker Themba Zwane after their victory in the Africa Cup of Nations third place playoff match against Democratic Republic of the Congo at Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Finding a replacement for Themba Zwane and reaching finality on the Lyle Foster matter are among the top priorities for Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos going into the World Cup qualifiers in June.

Speaking at the team's hotel in Abidjan as they prepared to fly out on Tuesday from their successful Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) showing, where they finished third, Broos said there are going be changes in the national team set-up.

Bafana return to action with back-to-back Fifa-organised friendly matches against Algeria and Andorra in March, where Broos said he will introduce new players.

After that, South Africa resume the World Cup qualifying group C campaign with an away clash against Nigeria, who knocked them out of Afcon on penalties in the semifinals before losing 2-1 in Sunday's final against hosts Ivory Coast.

Broos revealed his frustration that Foster decided to play for Burnley and not Bafana at a major tournament, citing mental health issues that kept the striker out of the game for seven weeks this season as he sought treatment for his issues.

South Africa's most promising striker had made a recovery, showing signs of form on his return in a handful of matches for the English Premier League club, ahead of Broos's announcement of his squad for the Nations Cup.

“Honestly, I am not happy, I knew from the beginning what the problems were,” Broos said.

“I knew and I was understanding [of the situation] because I spoke a few times with Burnley coach Vincent Kompany

“Our doctor spoke to his counterpart at Burnley. We put everything together and decided it was not a good thing to call Foster for Afcon.

“Lyle Foster himself wrote a letter to say, 'Please don't call me because I am not ready to play Afcon'.

“But then he starts playing for his club and he plays every game for 90 minutes.

“I am asking myself why it wasn't possible for him to come with us to Ivory Coast.

“This is my frustration, but I will not blame anyone. I am frustrated when I see him play because we could have used him at Afcon.

“He is a good striker and he scores. If we had Lyle we were going to be much stronger.

“It was not only Lyle. We also lost [injured RC Strasbourg striker] Lebo Mothiba. Losing two of your standard strikers before you start Afcon is not ideal.”

The unavailability of Foster and Mothiba opened space for Evidence Makgopa, who grabbed his opportunity.

“It was not a good situation, but I have confidence in Evidence Makgopa because he can become a good striker,” Broos said.

Broos said grooming a successor for 34-year-old Zwane was a priority as the coach looks towards the 2026 World Cup, among other key areas in his squad that need refreshing.

“Certainly there will be new players in [the friendlies] in March. I don't think it will be 10 but there are some positions in the team that require more attention than others.

“For example, on the right side there is no problem and we don't have to look for another right-back because Khuliso Mudau has Nyiko Mobbie [as cover].

“There are some positions we have to look at. We will see what happens with Themba Zwane. Even if Themba [continues], we need [to groom] someone to replace him.

“I have already spoken with assistant coach Helman Mkhalele and next Friday, when we are back in South Africa, we will try look for new players who will invited for camp in March.

“Let's hope we find players who can help us in the next games for the World Cup qualifiers.”


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