The South African men’s national team begin their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign with clashes against Benin and Rwanda in the next two weeks and are looking to make a positive start.
Although Bafana last featured in the global showpiece in 2010 as hosts, their ability to qualify for the World Cup was last proven in 2002, when Jomo Sono took his team to South Korea.
The “Black Prince” led the likes of Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune and Mbulelo Mabizela, but South Africa fell short and failed to emerge from the group stages in what would become Bafana’s last earned participation at the World Cup.
Since then, South Africans have grown hungry for major tournament participation, missing out on the 2006, 2014 and 2018 editions, and most recently the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
However, Belgian-born Broos has made that his primary target at the second time of asking, starting with Saturday’s qualifier against Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kick-off is at 3pm.
In his first year in charge of the national team, Broos almost achieved this feat as four wins, a draw and a controversial loss to Ghana resulted in South Africa missing out on the final stages of qualifying.
The 71-year-old has now shouldered the responsibility of returning Bafana to the pinnacle of world football.
The team went into camp at the University of Pretoria on Monday.
“It’s an important camp, because we play World Cup qualifiers. For me, it’s been 21 years (since the last successful qualification).
“For you South Africans, it’s 12 years since you last qualified for the World Cup ... in 2010 – but it was a little present for you because you organised it,” Broos said.
“It’s time that SA qualifies again for such a big tournament, so therefore, it’s a very important camp.
“We have two games now and we have to be careful that we have a good start, and that we don’t get behind from the beginning.
“It will not be easy ... you know, playing outside in Africa is never easy.”
Broos has led Bafana to an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions, one that began in June last year.
He will lead Bafana to the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast in January, having taken the scalps of the No 1-ranked nation on the continent in Morocco.
The former Cameroon national team mentor highlighted the importance of his side remaining confident amid all the difficulty that lies ahead with an expected daunting qualifying campaign.
“It will not be easy away in Rwanda (next Tuesday) and here at home against Benin. Benin, who played a draw against Senegal, have their qualities too,” he said.
“I think we have to be confident because of the performances we did in the last two years.
“Only three defeats in two-and-a-half years is a very good performance, but also the performances against Morocco, Liberia and last month against Ivory Coast must give us confidence.”