Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Bafana’s Broos expects World Cup qualification to go to the wire

'When you see the other results, it is unbelievable,' said the Bafana head coach.

Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos believes qualification for the 2026 Fifa World Cup will go right down to the wire in an increasingly congested Group C.

Bafana picked up a useful 1-1 draw in Uyo against Nigeria on Friday evening, while wins for Lesotho and Benin has left all six teams in the group, after three matchdays, separated by just three points.

Lesotho are the surprise leaders of the group on five points, while Benin, Rwanda and Bafana all have four points, Nigeria are on three points, having drawn all three of their qualifiers so far, and Zimbabwe are on two.

“This group is not a group of all top countries, but it is a very tricky group,” said Broos.

“When you see the other results, it is unbelievable. For me this is the biggest change (in African football). The ‘little’ countries have progressed a lot. You saw a lot of results at the AFCON (finals), where you had teams in the second (last 16) and third (quarterfinals) rounds that you would normally never expect.

“Here in this group the problem for all teams is that any team can win against any other team, or can take points from any other team. So I think it (qualification) will be tough and will not be decided before the last matchdaty.”

Only the team that finishes on top of Group C will be guaranteed a place at the expanded 2026 Fifa World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Bafana may ultimately see Friday’s game as an important point picked up on the road, and Broos was proud of the character his team showed, after a long trip to Uyo that took longer than expected.

A brilliant goal from Themba Zwane gave Bafana the lead at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, and while Fisayo Dele-Bashiru’s strike just after half time levelled the score, Bafana hung on for the point. If Hugo Broos’ side can now beat Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday, they will be in a very good position to push for World Cup qualification.

‘You can only be proud’

“I have to congratulate my players,” said Broos.

“As you know, or you don’t know, we had a terrible trip to Nigeria. We are only in the country at 2am on Thursday morning. When you see the mentality of the team today you can only be proud.

“It was a tough game against a very good team. In the first half we were fantastic, we had some chances and could have scored to make it 2-0. And we were a bit unlucky that within two minutes of the second half we conceded a goal. Then it is difficult but we fought for it from the 46th minute to the 95th minute and …. I think the result is correct.”