South Africa’s coach, “We don’t have Osimhen but we have a team”
South Africa might not have a superstar like Victor Osimhen, but Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is hopeful his team’s collective strength can help them overcome Nigeria in Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.
“We don’t have one-star player like a lot of teams. Just look at our opponents tomorrow, Nigeria, with Victor Osimhen, who plays for Napoli and is a big star,” Broos told AFP in an interview in the Ivorian city of Bouake, where the last-four clash will be played.
“We don’t have players like that, so it is the collective that makes us a good team.
“Everyone does their job and that is sometimes more important than having a few great players.”
Broos leans heavily on the Mamelodi Sundowns side that dominates South African club football, winning the last six domestic titles in a row.
His starting line-up has been the same for the last four matches, including Saturday’s victory on penalties over Cape Verde in the quarter-finals.
The team has shown only a single change from the side that began their opening 2-0 defeat against Mali, with Siyanda Xulu of SuperSport United making way for Grant Kekana of Sundowns.
Broos believes the advantages of playing with so many members of the same club side outweigh any fears of fatigue from a lack of changes.
“They are used to playing together, so there are certain things they know how to do automatically,” said the veteran Belgian, who played at the 1986 World Cup.
“The defence is made up of four Sundowns players, so they understand each other very well and that means that as a coach there is not much I need to do.
“It is not the same when you have four players from four different clubs, because then you need to work on developing an understanding.
“That means you gain a little bit of time and for me, that’s good, especially as they play in the African Champions League, so they have experience of a higher level than our league.”
He added: “I am not someone who changes for the sake of it. I know that rotation is used a lot in modern football, but on the other hand, for me, a team that wins is confident and you mustn’t change it too much.”
Broos is well-traveled as a coach in the club game, but this is just his second job in international management.
With South Africa, he is hoping to match his achievement with Cameroon, who he led to the 2017 Cup of Nations title against the odds.
The 71-year-old sees plenty of similarities between the Indomitable Lions’ campaign in Gabon seven years ago and his current side.
“It is bizarre. We faltered at the start (against Mali), and that was the case with Cameroon too,” said Broos, who could emulate former Zambia and Ivory Coast boss Herve Renard by winning the Cup of Nations with two different teams.
“We were second in our group, just like we were with Cameroon. Then we knocked out one of the big teams, Senegal with Cameroon, here against Morocco.
“Like in 2017, we won through to the semi-finals on penalties, so it brings back a lot of memories. I hope it continues and that we are going to win the Afcon.”