Bafana Bafana kicked off their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with an impressive victory over Benin. Despite dominating the match in every aspect, except for scoring more goals, Hugo Broos’s side emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.
The Al Ahly attacker, Percy Tau, marked his 40th appearance in a Bafana shirt with a goal, taking his tally to 14 goals for the national team.
– Advertisement –
Khuliso Mudau, the Mamelodi Sundowns right back, doubled Bafana’s lead just before halftime, capitalizing on a combination play between Tau and Themba Zwane.
However, Bafana’s momentary lapse in concentration allowed Benin’s skipper, Steve Mounie, to score a consolation goal in the 69th minute. Teboho Mokoena, the dependable midfielder, was guilty of losing possession in front of Ronwen Williams’ goal.
Leading up to this crucial clash, Broos emphasized the importance of starting on a positive note to rectify the mistakes made during the failed qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
With Africa now having nine automatic spots in the 2026 event instead of the usual five, Bafana has a greater chance of securing qualification.
Despite the promising start, there are still nine more matches to go, including the upcoming fixture against Rwanda. Bafana and Broos must continue to work towards realizing the country’s dream of qualifying for the World Cup. Group C, which also includes Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Nigeria, presents a challenging road ahead.
– Advertisement –
The shock defeat of Nigeria by Lesotho in their opening qualifier and Zimbabwe’s draw against Rwanda have put Bafana in the driving seat of Group C.
Broos acknowledged that Bafana may not necessarily need to beat Nigeria to qualify, as minnows can spring surprises, as Lesotho did against the Super Eagles.
While the victory against Benin has given Bafana a confidence boost, the fact that they couldn’t add to Tau and Mudau’s goals despite their dominance will undoubtedly frustrate Broos.
Bafana had several opportunities to score more goals, particularly in the first half, but their players opted for extra touches instead of taking shots.
There were also moments of concern for Broos regarding his defense, which occasionally lost possession when trying to build from the back alongside Williams.
Broos prefers a quick transition to the opposition half, and he looked visibly irritated when his players took their time to penetrate down the middle.
Broos made the decision to start the match with Orlando Pirates striker, Evidence Makgopa, ahead of Zakhele Lepasa. Makgopa, who was later replaced by Lepasa in the second half, has been part of Broos’s team since May 2021.
The reasonably vociferous crowd of over 15,000 witnessed glimpses of Bafana’s potential if they can sharpen their finishing and be more ruthless in front of goal.
Benin came with a plan to secure a draw, but conceding early forced them to come out of their defensive shell. Bafana did well to hold on to their slim victory, displaying resilience and determination.
The win against Benin sets Bafana on a positive trajectory as they head into their second qualifier against Rwanda. A victory in that match will keep them at the top of Group C before resuming qualification in June next year with a challenging trip to face Nigeria.
Overall, Bafana Bafana’s performance in their opening qualifier is a promising sign that they are on the right track towards achieving their World Cup dreams.
With a long way to go in the qualifying campaign, the team must continue to build on their strengths and address their weaknesses to secure a spot in the prestigious tournament.
– Advertisement –