Five things Bafana need to do to beat Benin and Rwanda
We take a look at five things Hugo Broos' Bafana need to do to get those precious World Cup qualifying points.
Percy Tau could be a key man in Bafana’s attack. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/GalloImages.
Bafana Bafana begin their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign on Saturday when they take on Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, while three days later they face Rwanda away from home in Butare.
Hugo Broos is targetting six points from these opening two Group C matches, as Bafana look to get out of the blocks faster than their rivals in the battle for top spot in the group, and automatic World Cup qualification.
Here, we take a look at five things Hugo Broos’ Bafana need to do to get those precious points.
Rediscover that defensive stability
All in all, Bafana have had solid qualification campaigns under Broos since he took over two years ago. They only just failed to make it into the play-offs for the 2022 Fifa World Cup, and have qualified for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast, beating World Cup semifinalists Morocco along the way. South Africa conceded just two goals in six 2022 World Cup qualifying matches, both from set pieces. They lost a bit of that assuredness at the back in Afcon qualifying, failing to keep a clean sheet in any of their four qualifiers. Conceding three goals to Liberia was particularly concerning and Broos will no doubt be keen for Bafana to return to their ruthless ways this week.
Take no one lightly
Bafana Bafana’s better performances of late have tended to come against stronger opposition. There was that Afcon qualifying win over Morocco, a friendly win over DR Congo and a friendly draw with the Ivory Coast in Abidjan. On the other side of that have been ponderous draws with Namibia and Swaziland in friendlies. Broos was furious with his side’s display against Swaziland in particular, and will no doubt have been emphasising in camp this week, the need to treat every game with the same attitude. Bafana will need to be switched on from the start against both Benin and Rwanda if they are to bring home the six points.
Use squad rotation wisely
Hugo Broos has said that he is concerned about the amount of games already played this season by Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates. He has already lost two Sundowns players – Grant Kekana and Thapelo Maseko – to injury this week, and still has six Masandawana men in his Bafana squad. On the Pirates side, Evidence Makgopa and Thapelo Xoki have this week been late call-ups to join Zakhele Lepasa and Nkosinathi Sibisi in the squad. If Bafana beat Benin comfortably in Durban, the temptation for Broos will surely be to keep the same side for the clash with Rwanda. He will, however, also have to keep an eye on just how fatigued some of the players are, particularly those that feature from Pirates and Sundowns.
Find the right attacking formula
It’s never easy to deduce who Broos will choose in attack for Bafana, even more so this week, with Lyle Foster and Lebo Mothiba both out of the squad. Broos has previously said that he doesn’t really have a replacement for Themba Zwane, so the Sundowns star can be expected to start, as can Al Ahly maestro Percy Tau. Elsewhere it is a hard one to call. Zakhele Lepasa had a spell as Broos’ go-to-guy, but the goals have dried up. Evidence Makgopa is the man in-form for Pirates but it’s been a while since he led the line for the national team. In the wide positions, with Tau on one flank, it looks like it will be a toss-up between Mihlali Mayambela and Bongokuhle Hlongwane for the other wide berth. A wildcard is Polokwane City’s Oswin Appollis, who would be making his Bafana debut with a chance in either match. Whoever he picks, the combinations need to click if Bafana are to take home six points.
Get the 12th man behind them, however many fans there are
It remains to be seen just how many fans attend the game at home to Benin on Saturday. Bafana home games are notoriously poorly-attended, though perhaps a move to Durban will get a few more through the gates. However many are in the stadium, however, it is on Bafana to put up the kind of display to rouse them into a frenzy, that can help the team surge to an important opening Fifa World Cup qualifying win. Bafana will no doubt face plenty of hostile crowds during their campaign, and it is on them to get their own home crowd fired up, even if the attendance is below what they would like.