Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the last three World Cups has made a mockery of the country’s citizens who pride themselves as ‘a footballing nation’.
However, Bafana have a chance to make up for lost time and disappoint their detractors when they start the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Benin this afternoon.
Here are three players who can ensure that South Africa start their qualifying campaign with a bang ...
GOALKEEPER: RONWEN WILLIAMS
Ronwen Williams is one of the most influential figures, both on and off the pitch, in the Bafana set-up. And perhaps that’s why he’s a befitting captain.
But with Bafana’s last qualification for the World Cup dating back to 2010, where they made the finals by virtue of being the hosts, Williams & Co want to change that.
Williams, though, will know that keeping clean sheets will go a long way towards ensuring they achieve that feat, especially given the goal difference rule in the qualifiers.
But that shouldn’t be a lot to ask for of the 31-year-old. During Mamelodi Sundowns’ triumph in the African Football League (AFL), Willams bagged the goalkeeper of the tournament award after keeping five clean sheets in six games.
MIDFIELDER: TEBOHO MOKOENA
Mokoena has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. He can break up the opposition’s threats in front of his own goals, while he’s got a knack for thunderbolts.
Speaking ahead of the two qualifiers, Bafana coach Hugo Broos lauded Mokoena for his efforts, saying he brought a lot of stability to the engine room of the team.
So, given those praises, Mokoena will want to ensure that he guides Bafana to a bright start in the qualifiers ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in January.
Mokoena has proven that he has big-match temperament, playing a starring role when Sundowns won the AFL. He’s the reigning PSL Footballer of the Year as well.
ATTACKER: PERCY TAU
After making his Sundowns breakthrough many moons ago, Tau was expected to be one of the finest exports to come out of the country and grace the world stage
And he’s had his fair share of success, playing in Belgium and England before moving to North Africa to join the continent’s most elite club, Al Ahly in Egypt.
But Tau has yet to meet the lofty billings of international football, having so far failed to win silverware with Bafana.
His only notable highlight with the national team was playing in the 2019 Afcon.
And that’s why all expectations will be on him to bring his sharpest boots to help Bafana in attack in their bid to qualify for the global showpiece in Mexico, Canada and the US in 2026.