Bafana’s Thapelo Maseko tries to control the ball with Mihlali Mayambela looking while Lesotho’s Thabo Mats’ oele, Thabo Lesaoana and Lisema Lebokollane trying to get the ball from him. (Supplied: SAFA Media.)
- Bafana Bafana played to a goalless draw with Lesotho on Wednesday in their final preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations where they have been grouped with Tunisia, Mali and Namibia.
- The match highlighted the team’s struggles to find the back of the net, made worse by Lyle Foster asking not to be included in the squad and Lebo Mothiba nursing an injury.
- Hugo Broos, however, downplayed the result, arguing it will not determine how they perform at the Afcon.
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The facial expression of the straight-talking Hugo Broos betrayed the words coming out of the Bafana Bafana coach’s mouth.
The Belgian tried to assure the nation that Bafana’s goalless draw with lowly Lesotho in a training match at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday will not have any bearing on their performance in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Broos started the match with a strong front four based on the 23-man squad he assembled, which was depleted by the unavailability of the injured Lebo Mothiba while Lyle Foster asked not to be picked despite playing for Burnley in England due to his continuing treatment of his mental health challenges.
Evidence Makgopa led the attack, supported by Thapelo Maseko and Mihlali Mayambela with Percy Tau the playmaker whose duty was to link the midfield with the frontline. Themba Zwane – along with Mothobi Mvala and Ronwen Williams – were unavailable for selection as a precautionary measure to ensure they are fully fit when Bafana start the Afcon against Mali on Tuesday.
Every player got a run, but the spotlight fell on the blunt and depleted attack that couldn’t find the back of the net against Lesotho who failed to qualify for the Afcon.
“It was not bad, but it was not good either,” a visibly disappointed Broos told SAFA media, before putting a positive spin on the outcome.
“Like I said before the game, this is a preparation game. We worked hard in the last three to four days. We needed a little bit more freshness to beat Lesotho. I am not unhappy, certainly not. Everyone had the opportunity to play.”
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Lesotho sat back and absorbed the pressure from Bafana, a strategy that worked well for them against Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers to play to a 1-1 draw against the most potent attack in the continent.
Bafana and Lesotho are in the same group in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which is among the reasons why Lesotho agreed to take part in this match with the South African Football Association having failed to set up a strong opponent to help prepare the team.
Their blunt attack has been a persistent problem for Bafana who failed to qualify for the last Afcon and finished the group stage in the 2019 edition with just one goal.
“This will not have an influence (on how we play at the Afcon), that is for sure,” Broos said of the draw.
“But we would have liked to have won that game. Everybody will say, ‘Oh, 0-0 against Lesotho.’ But you have to understand the circumstances (that influenced this match). Like I said before the game, this isn’t even a friendly match for me, it’s a preparation game. What we needed to see and not see, that’s what happened in this game.”
Broos praised the mentality the players showed. But while they couldn’t beat Lesotho, their opponents Mali thumped Guinea-Bissau 6-2 in their final preparation match ahead of taking on Bafana on Tuesday at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, Ivory Coast.
“When you see the results of these friendly games, it’s not something to really worry about,” said Broos.
“Or to say, ‘Hey, look at this one’. Like you said, Mali won 6-2 against Guinea-Bissua. First of all, we need to understand the circumstances that Guinea-Bissau came into that game under. The coach could have trained the team very hard, and then those guys are tired and Mali did something different.”
Bafana will fly to the east African country on Thursday morning in a direct flight to Abidjan. On Friday, they will then travel to Korhogo where they will be based – using the same hotel that Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies stayed in when they won the CAF Women’s Champions League in November last year.
Mothobi Mvala will be part of the travelling squad after he was cleared from the groin injury that almost ruled him out of the tournament.
“We did investigations which came back satisfactory,” Bafana’s team doctor, Tshepo Molobi told SAFA media.
“We are quite hopeful and optimistic that we will get Mothobi ready to participate for our first game on Tuesday. He has gone to do PRP laser treatment for the injury that he sustained. And, bare in mind that this was more precautionary than anything. We will continue treating him and come Friday, or Saturday, we will make a decision after our final fitness test.”