Belgian tactician Hugo Broos correctly predicted Benin’s tactics as victorious Bafana Bafana saw off a spirited fightback to run out 2-1 winners at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban yesterday afternoon.
They are the only team to win in the opening round of qualifiers, and the only team to score more than one goal in a match at this stage.
Their next opponents will be Rwanda, who held Zimbabwe to a goalless draw last Wednesday.
Bafana Bafana will play Rwanda in Butare on Tuesday afternoon, and ‘The Wasps’ (Rwanda’s nickname) will have the advantage of a five-day break.
Broos is pleased that his charges made a winning start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
“Sure, I am happy because we won the game,” Broos yesterday.
“It was not an easy game, but as I already said before the match, don’t underestimate these opponents because they play a simple game.
“They kick the ball ahead and they fight for the ball. We had some problems in the second half when they scored.
“There was a little panic in the group, but okay, the most important thing in qualifiers is to win the game.
“The game that Benin plays is very difficult (to deal with). You also need guys that are tall behind (in your defence).
“They kick the ball to a tall player, and he has a chance for header. We do not have tall players in defence.
“But okay, they had only that one chance to score. We had too few chances (in the second half), but we could have scored a third goal later in the match.”
Man-of-the-Match Percy Tau had the South Africans off to a flyer with a third-minute goal.
It was his first goal in two years for the national team, and he was pleased the team bagged three points to open their World Cup qualifying campaign.
“I think it was a good game because it’s always good to start with three points, although I think when we go away, we have to do better,” said Tau, the Bafana Bafana vice-captain.
“We gave away an easy goal when they capitalised on our mistake to score. We go to Rwanda, but we must be cautious, although we will still be confident.
“We know it is going to be difficult in Rwanda, but we will do our best.”
After Tau’s opening goal, Bafana added a second on the stroke of half-time as Themba Zwane’s shot from close range bounced off the Benin defence, and Khuliso Mudau pounced on the stray ball and struck it into the roof of the net.
Mudau was one of six Mamelodi Sundowns players in the run-on XI. The others were Ronwen Williams (captain), Mothobi Mvala, Aubrey Modiba, Teboho Mokoena and Zwane.
Benin national team coach Gernot Rohr said it was a game of two halves, but he admitted the two first-half goals by the hosts was a major setback.