Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has clarified his relationship with striker Zakhele Lepasa following claims of a rift.
The 26-year-old forward has been key for South Africa under Broos in the last 12 months. Lepasa scored the opener in the 2-1 win over Liberia, which secured Bafana’s place at the next AFCON finals.
On Friday, the Orlando Pirates marksman was a second-half substitute in the disappointing goalless draw with Eswatini.
However, Lepasa withdrew from the national team on Saturday as Bafana jetted off to Ivory Coast, where they play the AFCON hosts on Tuesday night. There was talk that the two had a fallout.
However, SAFA stated that the Orlando Pirates striker had been ruled out because of a knee injury. Broos has also come out and denied reports of a rift, saying Lepasa is still in his plans for the future.
WHAT HUGO BROOS SAID ABOUT LEPASA’S FUTURE
“I was surprised and a little bit angry when I heard in the media there was a clash between me and Lepasa. This is a very, very, big lie,” Broos was quoted by iDiski Times.
“There has never been a clash. The only thing is that Lepasa suffered from a knee [injury] on Friday, and it became worse during the night. So we decided together with the doctor that it was better not to go to Côte d’Ivoire.”
The Belgian added that even if Lepasa had travelled, “he wouldn’t play the game” as he would not be ready.
He said the striker was sent back to his club, Pirates, where he will undergo treatment.
“I can show an MRI – the proof is there,” Broos said. He slammed anyone peddling the rumours of a clash, saying, “They always try to look for something negative.”
“So, let’s repeat again: there has been no clash between me and Lepasa.”
In the absence of Lepasa, Broos will look to Lyle Foster and Lebo Mothiba in attack. He hopes to win the Ivory Coast match to atone for a poor showing against eSwatini.
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