Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Bafana’s Broos on assistant coach Helman Mkhalele – I love that guy!

"If anyone says something bad about Helman, I think I will kill them!” said Broos.

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has waxed lyrical about his relationship with assistant coach Helman Mkhalele, describing ‘Midnight Express’ as a friend as well as a colleague.

Mkhalele has been Broos’ right-hand man since the Belgian was appointed Bafana head coach in May 2021, and helped his head coach guide Bafana to an Africa Cup of Nations bronze medal this year in the Ivory Coast.

“Maybe in South Africa an assistant coach is only an assistant, but for me they are a coach!. When we pick a team, it is me and him together, I will never make a team (on my own) and say ‘this is the team,’ said Broos.

“I talk with him and say ‘what do you think?’ Against Nigeria (in the AFCON quafterfinals), suddenly we had three central defenders. This is not something I decided, we talked about it … how to solve the problem of Nigeria, who had two wingers that come inside.

“I don’t want an assistant who is maybe there to give some exercises in training and shuts his mouth!

“I am so happy with him (Mkhalele), I don’t need another one (assistant). It is also not only about football, it is they way Helman is in life and thinks about life. I love that guy!

“If anyone says something bad about Helman, I think I will kill them!

“I like all of my staff but with him I am in daily contact, certainly when I am here. We are down in the office and looking at games, and talking not only football but other things in life. He has become a friend.”

Broos said that when he arrived in the country, he had to lean heavily on Mkhalele’s expertise on the local game. The Bafana head coach even admitted it was Mkhalele who selected the squad for his first game in charge, a friendly against Uganda in June 2021.

‘Totally unknown’

“When I came here, for me this was totally unknown,” said Broos.

“You start as a coach and two weeks later, you need to select players for a friendly. So ok, Helman made the selection. I didn’t know who I had to take.

“Then we went to many games in the PSL, so after three or four months I could say I knew the teams and the players. But what was important for me was the inside information of Helman. He told me sometimes ‘coach, I think you have to do that’ and because I trusted him, I followed him.”

“It became more the moment Cedo (Janevski) left (Janevski was Broos’ other assistant coach, alongside Mkhalele, until he left his role in September 2022).

“I told Safa, I don’t want another assistant. I will work with Helman and this is perfect.

“Helman has a different view from many South Africans (about the game), sometimes he is also frustrated, we are on the same level, and it makes working with him so nice.”

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