.... South Africa coach throws a challenge at Liberia in AFCON qualifiers
An indirect challenge it may seem, but a challenge nevertheless — should Liberia choose to accept. Hugo Broos, the head coach of Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national team, has singled out Liberia as the weakest opponent in Group K of the upcoming 2023 AFCON qualifiers.
Now that the groups are fixed, Liberia, the only West African member of Group K, does not have a choice. So, if victory is indeed a state of mind, then it seems that the South Africans have hit the ground running. And the Lone Star?
Liberia was pitted against Morocco, South Africa, and Zimbabwe in the group that will see the top two teams book their tickets to the 2023 AFCON to be held in Cote D’Ivoire. Broos, in an interview with the South African Football Association (SAFA) media team, said, Liberia may be the weakest on paper, but it is always dangerous to underestimate an opponent.
“First of all we are going to look at their games, their last few games, see how good they are. So if we look at this group, first of all Morocco are the best team, Zimbabwe our neighbours, very tough games [against them], and Liberia normally are the weakest team,” Broos told www.Safa.net.
He added, “Liberia for me are a team I don’t know [at the moment], I don’t know the players, so it is up to us in the coming weeks to look at their games.”
Liberia and South Africa have both met twice in AFCON qualifiers with South Africa getting the bigger share of the points. In 2000, South Africa defeated Liberia 2-1 and settled to a 1-1 draw in 2001.
The Lone Star is still looking to return to the African championship after 20 years of absence. During the qualifiers of the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, Liberia failed to cross the preliminary rounds after losing against CHAD in post-match penalties after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Regarding the other opponents, Broos said while Morocco will be viewed as the favourites to win the four-team group, Bafana Bafana have their own ambitions and are well aware that they have to beat the Northern Africans if they want to be perched at the summit of the standings by the time the qualifying dust settles.
“It is clear that Morocco is the best team in our group. They were in the AFCON in January, they were eliminated by Egypt and they are a very good team,” SAFA quotes Broos. "Maybe Morocco is the best of our group. I know this team very well. So I think if we want to be first in our group, we have to beat Morocco. On the other side, there is Zimbabwe. We played against Zimbabwe during the qualifiers for the World Cup. We know them very well, we played two times against them last year [Bafana won 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 away], so they are a tough team. But this is a team we have to beat [if we are to qualify]. We are better than we were a few months ago. So I think if we can beat them twice it will be [a] very good [outcome] for us."