Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has labelled Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Themba Zwane as one of the best players he has ever worked with.

As the national team begin their preparations for the African Cup of Nations Broos admitted that he had been wrong to leave Zwane out of his plans when he first took over the helm of the national side.

Speaking to The Sowetan Broos explained why he had initially opted to leave the midfielder on the sidelines. He said: “It was not about Themba Zwane as a player, it was about his age.

“I was thinking that in two years we are playing Afcon and there is also [the] World Cup — will he be fit at that moment? It can happen that when a player is 32 or 33, he can be finished.

“For me the reason that Zwane is back in the squad is that there is no-one else who is younger. I know I cut my own finger and I admit it, but you see he is still fit now. It is amazing for someone of his age, and he has become an important player for us.

“It is maybe the only big mistake I have made since I have been here, but there was a reason. I saw he was a good player, but it is in the past and I am a human being and only fools can’t change their minds,” he acknowledged.

Broos’ managerial career began in 1988, and since then he has led sides like Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Cameroon, which has seen his in charge of some top-quality talent. Asked about some of the best players he has managed he said: “The best player I have coached is Vincent Kompany, there is no doubt.

“I have coached many good players in my career, but he was good and certainly because he was only 17 years old when I knew him.

“When I left Anderlecht, he was only 19, but he was a talented player, and you can see how his career panned out. As for an African player, this is not easy and maybe you will say I am picking him because I am here in South Africa.

“But in football quality, I would say Themba Zwane. You don’t have to tell him so much. I certainly don’t tell him much; I just ask him to go out there and play football.

“He knows where he has to be, what he has to do when he is on the pitch. He feels it because he is technically good; he is a good player; he can give the pass and he can score.

“He is a very good football player,” said Broos.

Bafana Bafana will open their AFCON campaign on 16 January when they face Mali at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo.