What was Hugo Broos thinking? Controversial Mabasa absence & other Bafana stars who will miss Nigeria game

Teaser: South Africa will play the Super Eagles hoping to get their second win in Group C of the Fifa World Cup qualifier

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos defied the odds to deliver the team’s first Africa Cup of Nations medal since 2000 when they finished third in the most recent edition held in Ivory Coast.

The success won the Belgian a good number of fans who, before the biennial competition, doubted his ability and potential to help the national team meet their targets.

Mzansi can now dare dream about the possibility of playing in the 2026 World Cup finals to be played jointly by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

South Africa have been placed in Group C of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers alongside leaders Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

Either Bafana Bafana or the Super Eagles have been tipped to top the group and qualify for the prestigious global competition. Broos recently confirmed his final squad that will play Nigeria on June 7 in Uyo hoping to help the South African nation play the World Cup for the first time since 2010 when they hosted it.

Despite having most of his key players available, the Bafana Bafana boss will miss some vital faces ahead of the Nigeria and Zimbabwe assignments.

The Makgopa impact – New target-man for Broos

The towering 23-year-old Evidence Makgopa muscled his way into the Orlando Pirates starting team, and eventually Bafana Bafana with his direct competitor at the club level Zakhele Lepasa paying the price.

In the 2023 Afcon, Makgopa played all the seven games scoring a goal and providing an assist in the process,  to help his team finish in the podium.

However, he has not been lucky with injuries since then, and when he recovered the season was almost concluding with Tshegofatso Mabasa undroppable owing to his form. It explains why he just couldn’t make the squad, at least not now.

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Mabasa, exclusion, what does Broos want? A grudge maybe?

It is a norm to have the most in form player in your squad in crucial games; but Broos reads from a different school of thought.

Mabasa has been the most lethal striker in Mzansi in the second part of the 2023/24 season. His strikes helped Pirates qualify for the Caf Champions League and win, recently, the Nedbank Cup.

In October 2021 during the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia, Mabasa was subbed by Broos after half an hour for failing to stick to clear instructions – as alleged by the tactician. Does Broos still have a grudge against the striker who finished the PSL season as the top scorer having scored 15 goals? 

“We had a bad experience with Mabasa two years ago. I had to change him after 35 minutes and everybody said it was a scandal,” the Bafana coach justified his decision to the media.

“No Mabasa didn't reach the level he had to reach for the national team. He's not the same player now. But you see what happened between January this year and the last game he played with Bafana Bafana two years ago. That was not so good for Mabasa.

“He's coming back to the [right] level. I don't think I had to take him because I have Iqraam [Rayners] who scored 15 goals. It is a one-goal difference. I give the confidence to Iqraam. It was a decision I had to make between him and Mabasa,” he added.

Will Mothiba ever realize his potential? The injury curse robs him another chance

After his impressive display for Bafana against Ivory Coast in an international friendly game that ended 1-1 on October 17, 2023, it was obvious Lebo mothiba will make the 2023 Afcon squad.

However, the former Strasbourg suffered a patellar tendon rupture on the eve of the competition, and has since been out of action from December 17 to date.

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The Xoki opportunity vanishes, will he replicate his performances after recovering?

The experienced Tapelo Xoki is the glue that has kept Pirates defense intact in an arguably successful domestic campaign.

In the league, he played 26 games and from his position still managed to get two goals and an assist. The Sea Robbers eventually finished second on the PSL table. The 29-year-old had three goals in as many Nedbank Cup appearances and played all the matches as Bucs successfully defended the MTN8.

Xoki is, however, set to watch Bafana take on Nigeria owing to a season-ending injury suffered late into the season.

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What was Hugo Broos thinking? Controversial Mabasa absence & other Bafana stars who will miss Nigeria game
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.