South Africa begins the road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup with a game welcoming Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday 18 November. This is a crucial match for both sides as they want to begin the qualification round on a high note.
The New Era under the coach Hugo Broos started on a very solid start for Bafana Bafana. Having already booked a ticket to next year’s African Cup of Nation tournament in Ivory Coast, next on the next assignment for Bafana is to have a good start and make it to the World Cup finals for the first time since 2010 which happened on home soil. Broos has made intentions known as one of the priorities is to drive the Southern region nation back into its glory days.
The positives from the Belgian mentor are the introduction of the young team plus the balance of the experienced campaigners. Another good thing is seeing him being vocal in terms of his selection which at the start made fans not happy about. Bafana has not ticked all the right boxes as yet but there are indications might be a team to watch in the future. During AFCON qualifications, they have managed to defeat Morocco which proved they are up for any test. Then last month, they held Ivory Coast to a 1-1 draw away from home. Those results give them a morale boost heading to face an unknown Benin nation with not much history in the World Cup finals.
But the biggest issue for Bafana is missing the key players as likes of Lyle Foster, Grant Kekana, and Thapelo Maseko were called into the squad but ended up being dropped for various reasons. That calls for the coach to make another means to get the results. The depth though in the line-up won’t be a problem even though they have to dig deep to obtain the results.
Benin has been one of the improved nations since the appointment of Gernot Rohr as their new mentor. Rohr is known in African football having guided Nigeria to a bronze trophy during the 2019 AFCON tournament. Better known for making big decisions and criticizing players if they are not performing, the 70-year-old mentor ended up not seeing eye-to-eye with the Nigerian football federation for some of his remarks which resulted in his being fired.
Now taking a very big job in line push Benin to a first-ever World Cup qualification in the history of the nation. The job might not come easy but in the past, he has indicated that he possesses good coaching skills. One of the things he has voiced out was the lack of a professional football league in the country which resulted in the national team having most of the players outside. In this case, their squad is made of the players who play In France most of the time. One of the dangerous players includes Steve Mounie, a striker who plays for Brest in French Ligue 1. In the past, he was even in the books of Huddersfield of England. Another valuable member includes Jodel Jossou, who is also based in France for the Souchax outfit.
Head To Head
The last time the two nations faced each other was during the 2004 AFCON in Tunisia with South Africa prevailing 2-0. That is the only fixture in the history of these two nations.