The future is looking bright for Bafana Bafana after impressive Afcon

Bafana Bafana outdid themselves in this 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) after they reached the knockout stages and eliminated Morocco in the last 16 stage. Against all expectations, coach Hugo Broos’ young guns held their own and showed an intent to revive Bafana as a powerhouse on the African continent once again.

With the 2025 Afcon (to be held in Morocco) qualifiers getting under way in March and the 2026 Fifa World Cup, drawing nearer at incredible speed, team SA is looking
solid, and the future is looking promising. 

When the well-travelled Broos took over in June 2021, he found a team in shambles. A bunch of over-the-hill players such as Itumeleng Khune, Thulani Serero, Andile Jali, Thulani “Tyson” Hlatshwayo, Kermit Erasmus, Bongani Zungu, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Dean Furman, to mention but a few, were still regulars and they had just failed to book a spot in the 2022 Afcon tournament.

Broos made wholesome changes that went against the status quo. He criticised the standard of the PSL and took a swipe at South African players because they were not known in European Leagues.

He was attacked for speaking the truth that people did not want to hear and was branded arrogant and disrespectful. But Broos had a plan, he had previously won Afcon trophy with Cameroon, where he encountered similar issues when he took over.

Broos has built a decent team and provided Mzansi with many options and players who will still fly the SA flag for many years to come. Sunday World takes a look at some of the future stars that Broos has unearthed:

Teboho Mokoena (27): The Mamelodi Sundowns midfield maestro is on top of his game at both club and national team level. Mokoena is a vital cog in the national team and also at the Brazilians.

Mamelodi Sundowns
The midfielder has, however, dismissed the coach’s claims, saying he does not feel targeted by the opposition. / Gallo Images
Evidence Makgopa
SAITAMA, JAPAN – JULY 25: Evidence Makgopa #9 of Team South Africa reacts after his shot hits the post during the Men’s First Round Group A match between France and South Africa on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Stadium on July 25, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

(23): The Orlando Pirates forward is growing in stature and is becoming Bafana’s most trusted goal poacher. If he remains consistent, he is likely to emulate Phil “Chippa” Masinga.  

Sphephelo “Yaya” Sithole (24): The KwaZulu-Natal man-mountain is destined for bigger and better things. He made the midfield holding position his own at this Afcon.

Sphephelo Sithole

Thapelo Maseko (20): The whopping R19-million that Sundowns spent when they purchased Maseko did not go to waste at all. The dribbling wizard is now staking a claim in the team at such a young age.

Thapelo Maseko
The arrival of Thapelo Maseko is seen as a perfect replacement for Cassius Mailula, who is on his way to the MLS in the US.

Mihlali Mayambela (25): The Cape Town-born player has gained immeasurable experience after spending so many years playing in the Swedish league.

Mihlali Mayambela
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – SEPTEMBER 12: Mihlali Mayambela of South Africa and Ikoko Jordan of DR Congo during the international friendly match between South Africa and DR Congo at Orlando Stadium on September 12, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Njabulo Blom (24): He may have not made the final cut for Afcon but the former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder is one of Broos’ most trusted players. On his day, Blom can unlock any defence and create goals for his teammates.

Njabulo Blom
Njabulo Blom of Kaizer Chiefs attack Gaston Sirino of Mamelodi Sondowns during the match.Photo by Mamelodi Sundowns

Bongokuhle Hlongwane (23): The hard-running former Maritzburg United missed Afcon by a whisker after a dip in form. His speed and knack for goals has made him an instant hit at MLS outfit Minnesotta United. He is one of Broos’ favourites.

Bongokuhle Hlongwane
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 10: Bongokuhle Hlongwane of South Africa and Halidi Kwaliwa of Uganda during the International Friendly match between South Africa and Uganda at Orlando Stadium on June 10, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Lyle Foster (23): He is playing in the best league in the world, the English Premiership and that is every youngster’s wish and dream. The 23-year-old Burnley striker is tipped to become a superstar in the coming years.

Lyle Foster
Lyle Foster netted the solitary goal for Bafana when they locked horns with DR Congo at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night. / Gallo Images

Terrence Mashego (27): Had it not been for injuries, Mashego would have been at the top of the perking  order in terms of the left-back position. He is technically sound and is a good reader of the game. He still has three years to go before he turns 30.

Terrence Mashego
Terrence Mashego

Khanyisa Mayo (25): He is following in the footsteps of his dad, Patrick Mayo, who was also a regular in the national team set-up. The Cape Town City striker won the Golden Boot last season and is  among the top scorers this season.

Khanyisa Mayo
Khanyisa Mayo of Cape Town City F.C. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)

Oswin Appollis (22): The young Polokwane City forward is definitely one for the future. He’s got all the time in the world to break into the Bafana team and to make a name for himself in the process.

Bafana: Oswin Appollis
Oswin Appollis is in the Bafana Bafana squad for World Cup qualifiers. /Gallo Images

Jayden Adams (22): The highly-talented Stellenbosch FC midfielder will be boosted by being selected as part of the Afcon team. This will arm him with a wealth of experience going forward.

Jayden Adams
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 15: Jayden Adams of South Africa during the 2022 COSAFA Cup plate semi-final match between Madagascar and South Africa at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on July 15, 2022 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News