14 June 2023 – It has not been an easy road for a Belgium coach who stepped into unchartered territory when he assumed the hot seat as South African senior national team mentor in May 2021.

Hugo Broos has been at the helm for a little over two years now and like all Bafana Bafana coaches before him, he has been under the microscope for most of the period, and much was expected.

While things might not have gone exactly according to plan in those two years, Broos looks back at his time in South Africa and smiles. “It was not easy,” he said. “There were so many critics and there were people who did not want to see me succeed. But today I look back and I’m happy because things are looking good, the team is looking good. I am happy.”

The Bafana Bafana coach said since he assumed the reins, there has been a lot of scouting, monitoring of international players, watching of local games and getting to know players, and for him, it all came into focus last year. “September last year was a big month for me, and it was when the core of the team was formed and we started working well together. The players knew what was asked of them and the spine of the team that I’ve been building came together…… perfect puzzle.”

The Belgian said his test will come next year when Bafana Bafana line up against the continent’s best national teams at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast. He said a lot of what he does now will have the tournament in mind, for he knows what success on the continent tastes like, and would want to do it again with Bafana Bafana.

But for now, his focus is completely on Saturday’s AFCON qualifier against Morocco at FNB stadium. The team has been enjoying the world class facilities at the University of Pretoria, High Performance Centre (HPC), in the buildup this week, with a sense of camaraderie, belief, trust, back-to-back player birthdays and a competitive streak among the 23 players, who all want a chance to face  Africa’s second best-ranked team.