THE Warriors’ will be hoping to take advantage of South Africa’s in-house problems to kick start their 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a flyer when the two neighbours collide in a Group G encounter.
New South Africa coach Hugo Broos’ squad selection as well as his media comments have planted seeds of doubt among former Bafana players ahead of the showdown.
Bafana Bafana legend Mark Williams recently told The Sowetan that Zimbabwe and Ghana look stronger than South Africa taking into consideration the players that have been selected by the sides for the qualifiers.
“It will be difficult. I always believe that when you play against players that are playing abroad, they get all the experience and they bring from wherever they are playing in England, France, into their national team, which Ghana and Zimbabwe have got, so they already have the upper hand,” Williams said.
The Warriors however had to make do without the UK-based stars Marvelous Nakamba, Tendayi Darikwa, Brendan Galloway, Jordan Zemura and David Moyo who plies his trade in Scotland as their clubs refused to release them due to strict COVID-19 quarantine protocols in their players in return from international duty.
But the Warriors still boast the duo of France-based Tino Kadewere and Marshal Munetsi, goalkeeper Martin Mapisa who is based in Spain, defender Alec Mudimu and Jonah Fabian who are also playing in Europe.
They also have their contingent of South Africa-based players Khama Billiat, Onismor Bhasera, Kuda Mahachi and Terrence Dzvukamanja making today literally an international derby.
Zimbabwe has also brought players Thabani Kamusoko and Tafadzwa Rusike from Zambia with a few local players, losing striker Knox Mutizwa and holding midfielder Butholezwe Ncube at the last minute after the duo tested positive for Covid-19.
South Africa have in turn the experience of Percy Tau who recently joined Egyptian giants Al Ahly from the English Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Bafana Bafana Belgian gaffer has called up youngsters for the qualifiers dropping experienced players Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly, Bongani Zungu, Thulani Serero and Lebogang Phiri.
Another Bafana Bafana legend Linda Buthelezi has written off Broos.
“Broos will not succeed. Let us just disband the national executive because they have been leading us astray. There is nothing any person from outside can do to fix the national team. Just take Helman Mkhalele and David Notoane and make them the national coaches, and they must be directed by a new technical committee, not this current one,” Buthelezi told kickoff.com.
He added: “I have been following Broos’comments and he has been contradicting himself saying he does not need older players who lack quality, or younger players who lack quality. But you have got an under-23 side that recently featured at the Tokyo Olympics but you do not talk about them. You can not bring even seven players from that squad. The Olympics is the measure. You will see he will lose against Ghana and Zimbabwe and then will want to select the older players.”
Bafana Bafana also lost Thabiso Kutumela, who is based in Portugal and Mamelodi Sundowns Thibang Phete as the duo tested Covid-19 positive before travelling to Zimbabwe.
But Warriors mentor Zdravko Logarušić is not taking the South Africans lightly, banking on the experience of skipper Musona and Billiat to upset Bafana Bafana.
He is quoted in Fifa’s website saying: “Their (Bafana Bafana) record in the competition suggests they are the favourites but the reality on the pitch is entirely different. It’s up for grabs and either side can win. That is what we will be fighting to do. What with Covid-19 and travel restrictions, we have had problems with our preparations over the last year and with monitoring our overseas-based players.”