Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos has credited his players “character and mentality” after cruising to an impressive 3-1 win over Ethiopia in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier away at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Before their trip to East Africa, Bafana were the best team in Group G, sitting top of the standings with four points – thanks to a draw with Zimbabwe and a win over Ghana at home. But Ethiopia were set to present a new challenge though.
Bafana had never beaten the Ethiopians in the global showpiece qualifiers, managing a draw and loss in the last two. But Broos’ men beat the script, claiming a crucial win in Ethiopia to remain top of their group with seven points.
The South Africans took the lead after Teboho Mokoena forced a blunder from goalkeeper Fasil Gebremichael with a long-range, curling set-piece effort late in the first half. After play resumed, Gataneh Kebede equalised with a close-range free kick.
But Bafana didn’t drop their heads, quickly restoring the lead from a close-range effort from Mothobi Mvala. However, it was substitute Evidence Mokgopa who sealed the deal, chipping a through ball over the onrushing Gebremichael.
“I was a very difficult game on a very difficult pitch. But I said it to the players before the game that we don’t need a trophy for being a team that plays the best football,” said a chuffed Broos at the Bahir Dar Stadium in his post-match reactions.
“But, as a team, we needed a trophy for being a team with the best character. We showed that character and mentality. We fought for every ball during the game. And we won at last and it was a great win for the team at the end of the day.”
Broos was forced to change his tactics after the half-an-hour mark, taking off Tshegofatso Mabasa who was struggling in the game, while he had also suffered a knock. Mabasa was replaced by Royal AM's on form striker Victor Letsoalo.
A quick snippet of an off the cuff capture of a team who conquered in Ethiopia, and arrived home at 6am this morning 😴![CDATA]>😴![CDATA]>😴. Three points tucked away neatly in the luggage. #BafanaPride #FIFAWCQ2022 #BunchOfWinners pic.twitter.com/5YZfnyBORT— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) October 10, 2021
“I know it was a little disappointing for Tshegofatso. But he had difficulties. It was better that we change that. I explained to him for what. We trained him this week but I don’t think he fully understood what we wanted from him,” Broos said.
Bafana were expected to return to South Africa immediately after the game against Ethiopia. They’ll start with their preparations for the return leg on Sunday, while that match is scheduled to take place at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday night.