Njabulo Ngcobo joins Bafana as Hugo Broos set for baptism of fire


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CAPE TOWN – After Monday’s press conference, Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos declared media interviews off-limits until the team arrive in Zimbabwe for Friday afternoon’s 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

It will be Broos’ first game in charge of the national team, who last played in a Fifa World Cup in 2010 when South Africa hosted the global showpiece.

Since then, Bafana Bafana have failed to qualify for the 2014 and 2018 tournaments.

The trip to Zimbabwe marks the start of Bafana Bafana’s Qatar 2022 campaign. The next stop will be a home clash on Monday against African giants Ghana, before back-to-back encounters against Ethiopia in October.

Broos has made it clear that he has not been mandated to qualify for Qatar, but he is hopeful.

Not too long ago, he vented his feelings on the matter: “We will do everything to qualify for the World Cup. Who does not want to go to the World Cup? Only crazy people, but Okay, it will be tough.”

The Belgium-born coach, who guided Cameroon to the 2017 African

Cup of Nations title, has charged his players to show a winning mentality: “I think the mentality will be very important. I want a very good fighting mentality.”

Bafana Bafana have been in a bio bubble since Sunday, and started training on Monday at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.

They trained there again yesterday, and will wrap up preparations there today before flying out later to Harare in the afternoon.

There was good news and bad news in the camp on Tuesday. Firstly, Gift Links (Aarhus) and Luther Singh (FC Copenhagen) flew in from Denmark to join the squad.

The growing injury list has forced Broos to look for cover, and he has called up Kaizer Chiefs defender Njabulo Ngcobo, who has joined the squad and becomes the sixth Amakhosi player currently in the group.

Bafana Bafana team doctor Tshepo Molobi gave an update on Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Mothobi Mvala, who has not been training.

“There is a slight concern about Mvala, who has a groin strain, which the medical team is working on,” said Molobi, adding that a decision will be made today about Mvala’s readiness to travel to Zimbabwe.

The Hapoel Tel Aviv defender Siyanda Xulu is nursing a head injury and could be ready for the Zimbabwe clash.

“Stitches was to be removed today (Tuesday), and he will be off the injury-concerns list, but I will be monitoring him closely,” said Molobi.

Since Sunday, the squad have had daily Covid-19 tests. All players and staff have tested negative. “Travelling in a pandemic is not easy,” said

Molobi. “We have taken lessons from past camps, and have decided that casting a ‘bubble’ lessens the spread. It keeps everyone safe, especially with the team travelling internationally. Every precaution has been taken.”

Friday’s match kicks off at 3pm, and the team arrive back on Saturday ahead of Monday’s match at the FNB Stadium against Ghana.


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