Bafana will be gunning to make two wins out of two in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time in 23 years when they visit Rwanda’s Amavubi at Huye Stadium this afternoon.
Hugo Broos’ side started the Group C World Cup qualifiers with a narrow 2-1 win over Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
It was another record broken on that day, as it was also the first time they won the opening group stage match in FIFA World Cup qualifiers since Mbulelo Mabizela scored twice against Cape Verde on 5 June 2004. But they then lost their second qualifier 3-0 to Ghana and in the end failed to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
But when they qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, Bafana started with a win 2-0 away against Zimbabwe and then beat Burkina Faso 1-0 in Mzansi.
Malawi was the next to stand in Bafana’s way, and they, too, were beaten – 2-1 away from home. The Warriors then came to South Africa for the return leg and Bafana won 2-1 when former Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz was in charge, before drawing 1-1 with Burkina Faso away in the second-to-last Group E match.
Matthew Booth and Bradley Augustine were on the scoresheet in the last game of the group, as Bafana signed off in style to beat Malawi 2-0 in Mzansi.
Those were the dizzy heights for Bafana, who finished top of the group with 16 points after six matches, having won five of those along with one draw. Guinea, who were in that group, were disqualified by FIFA.
But it could be argued that Bafana was playing against smaller oppositions, most coming from the Southern region, only Burkina Faso from the west of Africa provided a sterner test.
In the current 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Bafana will also meet Zimbabwe, who were their opponents 23 years ago.
Broos, who won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon, critically detailed the importance of beating Benin to stake their claim at the top of Group C.
“Imagine if we are in that position of Nigeria, we would have the knife here [on the throat, if we didn’t win against Benin], but it is not with the knife here [since we won],” said Broos.
“Nigeria is with a knife here [pointing to the throat], imagine. The grace to the lord that we have six out of six in points, they will be four points behind already.
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“Therefore, again a good start is very important and certainly in your home games. If you win your home games, you are going to be very far and catch one or two victories away, I think we will qualify.”
Bafana have a chance to go four points clear of group favourites Nigeria after the Super Eagles also dropped points in their second qualifier in a 1-1 draw with Zimbabwe.
Broos’ men face Rwanda in a crucial away game on Tuesday, and will then continue the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria away on 3 June 2024, before hosting Zimbabwe seven days later in the same month.