Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor


Morena hails Bloemfontein fans after Bafana victory

'It has ... been a long one with them not having a team, so thanks to the supporters,' said Morena.


Bafana Bafana matchwinner Thapelo Morena said it felt extra-special to help Bafana Bafana to victory over Zimbabwe on Tuesday in front of his ‘home’ crowd in Bloemfontein.

Morena started his professional career at Bloemfontein Celtic and the Mamelodi Sundowns star rolled back the years in a 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier at the Free State Stadium, coming off the bench at the start of the second half to grab a brace, as Bafana beat the Warriors 3-1 to keep pace at the top of Group C.

“It feels very great after so long (since we have been) in Bloemfontein. This one is for them (the fans of Bloemfontein), it has … been a long one with them not having a team, so thanks to the supporters,” Morena told SABC Sport after the match.

This was Bafana’s first international match in the Free State for 14 years, while Celtic disappeared from view when they sold their top flight status to Royal AM at the start of the 2021/22 season.

With Free State Stars also no longer running as a professional club, it was about time the people of Bloemfontein got some football to watch and an excellent crowd turned out to cheer Bafana on.

Morena, meanwhile, credited the Bafana technical team for bringing him on, a move that proved decisive with the scores locked at 1-1 at half time.

“Thanks to the technical team for beliving in me …. it was very important to play the game from the bench. It was a situation where I could use my experience to get behind their defence. The most important thing was that we created chances and converted them,” added the 30 year-old.

Mission accomplished

For Bafana, meanwhile, it was mission accomplished for this set of qualifiers as they managed four points, following a valuable draw away from home in Nigeria on Friday.

Bafana, Benin and Rwanda are all on seven points in Group C with six games left to play. Bafana’s next World Cup qualifiers will be in March at home to Lesotho and away to Benin. Only the group winners will automatically qualify for the World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

“Before we left for Nigeria we said the most important thing was to get … six points but if we couldn’t, to get four and we have done that. So congratulations to the whole team, we delivered,” added Morena.

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