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Bafana Bafana's Themba Zwane and Percy Tau (obscured) challenge Claude Niyomugabo of Rwanda in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier at Stade Huye in Butare, Rwanda on Tuesday.
Bafana Bafana's Themba Zwane and Percy Tau (obscured) challenge Claude Niyomugabo of Rwanda in the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier at Stade Huye in Butare, Rwanda on Tuesday.
Image: Julius Ntare/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana did not come up with a suitable response to Rwanda’s “kick and rush” football that brought the Wasps two goals in the opening half-hour of SA’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat on Tuesday, coach Hugo Broos said.

Broos expressed surprise that the game was allowed to start on a synthetic pitch he decried before his team’s defeat as old and in poor condition at the 10,000-seat Stade Huye in Butare, given it was made worse by being waterlogged at the start of the qualifier.

He said that was not an excuse for the defeat, though, so much as Bafana’s inability to defend against Rwanda’s route one balls and strong early running as the home team took a two-goal lead through strikes by Innocent Nshuti (12th minute) and Gilbert Mugisha (28th).

In the conditions, Bafana’s inability to play their passing game and pressurise Rwanda in the other direction also gave the 140th-ranked team, who notched just their second win in 15 matches, free rein to launch their long-ball attacks. SA settled after the opening half-hour as the pitch dried and Rwanda sat back on their lead but could never entirely adjust to controlling the ball or completing passes on the surface.

“We lost the game in the first 25 minutes. We were not ready for the kick and rush football of Rwanda though I had told the players they had to be careful of that,” Broos said.

“In those first 25 minutes we gave two presents, two goals. For the second goal we had the ball and didn’t keep it [as right-back Khuliso Mudau attempted to shield, but goalkeeper Ronwen Williams did not come to collect] and they scored.

“After that we changed some things. We asked the boys to put a bit more [attacking] pressure.

“Then you saw in the second half Rwanda didn’t come into the [SA] 60 metres except for that shot [a save by Williams from Djihad Bizimana] and for the rest they defended. And that has to be from the first minute.

“Our start was bad and we paid cash with two goals.”

Even in the difficult conditions, after a promising win against Benin in Durban on Saturday, a number of players did not come to the party on Tuesday.

This may partly be down to a tough travel schedule in a quick turnaround where Rwanda scheduled the game in Butare, a three-hour bus ride from Kigali. SA’s flight touched down in the capital city at about 9.30pm on Sunday and they arrived in Butare at 1.30am.

Broos was asked about some of the players who were anonymous in attack, such as Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Percy Tau and Themba Zwane, and centreback Siyanda Xulu being unconvincing in defence.

“I don’t usually give comment on the performance of players and I will not do it here either. You play as 11 and lose as 11,” he said.

Broos was asked why SA did not try to play aerial balls to suit the conditions.

“We don’t have those players to play that football. Will I ask Rwanda to play like SA? I don’t think I can do that either.”

After two games Rwanda went top of group C on four points. SA have three, Nigeria, Lesotho and Zimbabwe two and Benin one.


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