Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Morena magic seals Bafana World Cup win over Zimbabwe

Bafana took just 33 seconds to take the lead in Bloemfontein.

Local hero Thapelo Morena came off the bench to grab a 2026 World Cup qualifying win for Bafana at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday, his second half brace sealing a 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe and a crucial three Group C points.

Morena spent the first part of his career at the now-defunct Bloemfontein Celtic, before moving to Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016, and shone here in familiar surroundings, as Hugo Broos’ Bafana moved level with Benin and Rwanda on seven points at the top of the group.

It was the 30 year-old Morena’s first two senior international goals, and he picked the perfect time to score them, in front of an excellent crowd in Bloemfontein, a refreshing change from the usual poor attendances at Bafana home matches.

The passionate home fans had barely taken their seats when they had cause to celebrate, as Bafana took the lead after just 33 seconds.

An absolute howler from Zimbabwe defender Munashe Garananga gifted possession to Iqraam Rayners, and the Stellenbosch striker easily beat Geoffrey Chitsumba.

The Warriors had lost 2-0 to Lesotho just a few days earlier, but their heads did not drop, and it took them just over a minute to draw level.

Bafana completely lost focus from a throw in, and Zimbabwe captain Marshall Munetsi found Tawanda Chirewa, who cut into the box and produced an excellent finish with the outside of his foot past Ronwen Williams.

Bafana had some promising attacks as the half wore on, with Rayners scuffing an effort after being set up by Oswin Appollis.

Rayners had another effort tipped over by Chitsumba while on the stroke of half time Chirewa turned brilliantly inside the box and curled an effort inches wide of the Bafana goal.

Morena impact

Both sides made changes at the break, with Bafana bringing on Morena for Elias Mokwane, and Zimbabwe introducing Daniel Msendami in place of Douglas Mapfumo.

And it was Morena who struck in the 54th minute, firing in from close range as Chiutsumba fumbled Appollis’ cross.

Bafana pushed for a third goal and Teboho Mokoena’ effort was deflected just wide by John Takwara, who also then did well to get in the way of a Siyabonga Ngezana header.

South Africa did finally get their insurance goal in the 76th minute, Mokoena’s brilliant pass releasing Morena, who rounded Chitsumba and slotted into the empty net.