Scouting opposition players is now recognised as a highly-advanced technological process, but in some instances that technology is also required to help a team learn more about its own players.

A case in point is the South African national soccer team, known as the Bafana Bafana, which has been undergoing a systematic rebuild since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Now with respected European coach Hugo Broos – who led Cameroon to glory at the African Cup of Nations in 2017 - at the helm, identifying emerging South African talent around the world is key.

Video technology such as Wyscout has been vital in this regard. “In the beginning when I was here we had a short time to prepare the team,” he says. “So I used it very often to look at South African players. It’s easy to let me look at players, especially to detect players in Europe. When we hear of a South African player in Europe we go immediately to Wyscout to look at games and look at players.”

The Bafana Bafana are in rebuild mode under the guiding hand of 2017 African Cup of Nations winning manager Hugo Broos.

Two obvious cases were Sphephelo Sithole and Thibang Phete, South Africans who were playing in Portugal. “I had to scout every player because I don’t know the South African players!” says Broos. “So I had to do a lot of research - who are the players and where are they playing? Sometimes you find players you didn’t know before such as Sithole and Phete who were playing for Belenenses-SAD in Portugal. We scouted many Belenenses-SAD games and we could see they were very good.”

Broos, 70, starred as a solid centre back during a playing career that saw him win major honours in Belgium for Anderlecht and Club Brugge, as well as being part of a thrilling national team that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1986. 

But today he is very much looking to the future and is keen to embrace technology, and to use it to gain any advantage for the Bafana Bafana. His goals are simple – to qualify for every AFCON tournament as well as the 2026 World Cup. 

But whereas in Europe, playing ‘lesser’ teams is simpler because there is so much data about every player, in Africa that is not the case. In South Africa’s group for the next AFCON tournament are Morocco and Liberia (Zimbabwe are currently suspended) and Broos admits he needs as much help as he can gather. 

“I don’t know any Liberian players,” he says. “Therefore it’s important to get to know them individually in their clubs and their national team. It's tricky when you play against a team like Liberia – they are a small team in Africa but they could be dangerous.”

Broos' coaching career spans back to 1988. He took the reins of South Africa's National Team in 2021.

Broos welcomes the news that Wyscout is rolling out its services across the whole continent. “It is very important,” he says. “I know it’s maybe easy to get information about top teams in Africa like Morocco, Cameroon, Senegal, Egypt… but try to find out about Liberia or Ethiopia – it’s not easy! In the World Cup qualifiers we played Ethiopia but where do you find information? 

It’s important when you work in Africa to get information on the local competitions. In Europe it’s no problem – the information is everywhere. But previously we had to travel and go to see a local game in Ethiopia - but now you don’t need to do that. We can sit in front of the computer and get any information we want.”

"But previously we had to travel and go to see a local game in Ethiopia - but now you don’t need to do that. We can sit in front of the computer and get any information we want". Hugo Broos - Manager, South Africa National Team.

In terms of analyzing opponents, Broos is meticulous in his approach with video technology. While he studies tactics and styles of play in depth, he also runs the rule over every opposition player and relays that information to his own team.

“First of all we look at the team – how do they play, which tactics do they use? Do they go with three at the back or four? Two centre forwards?” he says. “The we look at how they play individually and with Wyscout it is very easy – you just click on the player and you have any information you want. 

How is he offensively, defensively, in the air, and so on – a lot that we can give to our players. So when my central defenders play against a striker, for example, we can give them information to say he always uses his left foot or always comes deep, and so on. Then it’s easier for our players - we do it for every position of the opposing team.

“We watch club matches and international matches because sometimes players end up playing in different positions for the national team than their clubs. We put in a lot of work but Wyscout is a big help.”

Example of a Wyscout dashboard featuring individual player data which can be used to analyze an opposition player's strengths, weaknesses and overall performance metrics.

With Wyscout being used by some of the biggest names in club football in the world, such as Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, it is clear it provides teams with a great advantage when used correctly. Broos is in no doubt that it makes life easier for coaches and players alike. “It is easier now than it was 25 years ago. Then maybe you saw some games but you didn’t have inside information - but now you have it all. A player knows nearly everything about his direct opponent. When I was playing we just had one video of the opponent and that was it. Now we have everything with one click.”

And he adds that the European influence will undoubtedly help advance skill levels across Africa as more coaches there get to use Wyscout.

“Coaches in Africa can really learn a lot by looking at European comps and seeing all the data,” he says in conclusion. “ The level in Europe is much higher than in Africa and that’s also to do with coaches – you find European coaches everywhere here, but not so many African coaches. But they can learn a lot with things such as Wyscout – they can see data, they can look at matches and work better with their players. It’s very good.”

Learn more about how Wyscout and the Wyscout Scouting Area is powering modern football scouting processes, and check out our case study from Zambia's Atletico Lusaka.

You can also learn about elite-level scouting and recruitment processes in our High Performance Workflows series