Bafana Bafana are confident before their first match of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Benin in Durban this weekend.
SA, aiming for a return to the global showpiece for the first time since 2010, get that mission under way against the 93rd-ranked West African country at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
Bafana were hosts of the 2010 World Cup, but the last time they qualified for the tournament was for Korea/Japan in 2002.
They have missed the three World Cups since their participation on home soil, but Bafana goalkeeper Veli Mothwa feels the current group of players assembled by coach Hugo Broos is good enough to book a ticket to the next event.
The 2026 World Cup will be staged in Mexico, Canada and the US, where it will be expanded from 32 to 48 participants with nine qualifiers from Africa, and another place available via an inter-confederation playoff.
Mothwa believes the core of Broos’ squad has been together long enough to be bonded into a competitive outfit, as indicated by their qualification for 2024’s African Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Broos’ team has gone for more than a year without a defeat, though there have been some disappointing draws in that period. The last time Bafana lost was a 2-1 defeat to Morocco in their Afcon qualifier in Rabat in June 2022.
“As the team the coach has assembled it’s very important [to qualify for the World Cup]. We didn’t qualify for the previous World Cup, but we want to play in that 2026 World Cup,” Mothwa said.
“The preparations are going well, especially now with the Afcon [coming up]. I can tell you that come 2026, Bafana will be in the World Cup.”
Mothwa has called on supporters from KwaZulu-Natal to rally behind the national team when they face Benin. Bafana have been struggling to attract crowds at venues in Gauteng.
“To the KZN supporters, I feel like you guys needed this and so we are bringing this to you, and I know they are going to come out in numbers to support the national team because it has been so long since they have seen Bafana Bafana play at Moses Mabhida,” Mothwa said.
“Most of the time we play without supporters or fewer supporters than we expected, but the supporters play a big role for us.
“If they are there cheering us, it makes everything easy to win the games.”
After the game against Benin the South Africans travel to Rwanda for their second Group C qualifier at the tiny 10,000-seat Stade Huye in Butare on Tuesday (3pm SA time).
Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Lesotho are the remaining teams in Group C, the winners of which will reach the World Cup.
Four best-placed runners-up from nine groups go into a playoff to decide the team that will play in the inter-confederation tie.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.