Bafana coach Hugo Broos must get his sums right for World Cup qualifiers

Captain Ronwen Williams will hope that Bafana Bafana have a better outcome tomorrow against Nigeria, after losing in the Afcon semi-finals. Photo: BackpagePix

Captain Ronwen Williams will hope that Bafana Bafana have a better outcome tomorrow against Nigeria, after losing in the Afcon semi-finals. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 6, 2024


Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has whipped out the infamous ‘South African calculator’ ahead of his side’s two Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Broos will lead his men against the Super Eagles tomorrow at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo (9pm kick-off, SA time), before colliding with neighbours Zimbabwe next Tuesday in Bloemfontein (6pm).

The strict Belgium-born mentor may not have been let in on the mathematical trauma of Bafana over the past 20 years, and has already got the nation counting points on their fingers after just two matches played.

South African football supporters have been subjected to such scenarios on numerous occasions, with the most horrific incident coming in 2011 during their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.

The faces and dance moves of the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Andile Jali and Siphiwe Tshabalala live on from that forgettable night in Mbombela.

The players did their traditional celebratory dance as well as a lap of honour as South African Football Association officials, coaches and players, as well as supporters, believed that their goalless draw against Sierra Leone was good enough to take them to the 2012 Afcon – only to find out that it was not the case.

However, Broos is looking to avoid such an error, as well as forge realistic expectations for his side as they navigate a difficult qualifying group.

Following their win against Benin and shocking loss away in Rwanda, Bafana are second in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, with The Wasps leading the group.

Bafana’s next opponents, Nigeria, had arguably the most surprising results after the first two matchdays as they drew against Lesotho and Zimbabwe – and those outcomes have left them in third position and desperate for points.

Bafana’s other opponents, Zimbabwe, are also level on two points with Nigeria, and are also probably viewing their next games against Lesotho and SA as an opportunity for six valuable points, with qualification a long way from being secured.

Given that Bafana have won only one of their last 10 meetings with the Super Eagles and have never secured victory in Nigeria’s patch, Broos’ utterances may be due to the fact that his side have to play away tomorrow, with captain Ronwen Williams and his team having begun their journey to Uyo yesterday.

Speaking to the media before departing for west Africa, the 2017 Afcon winner with Cameroon stated that the most ideal points total for the next two games would be four – while six would be considered a bonus.

The experienced mentor also expressed how their recent showing against some of the biggest nations on the continent would be enough to raise the belief level in the group.

— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) June 5, 2024

“If you see our performances in the last six months, at the Afcon and our game against Algeria, where we played very well, we have to be confident and believe in our chances,” Broos said.

“Those games should give us confidence that we can achieve our goals, and our goals are four and six (points).

“I don’t want to lose any of those two games – I want to win one and I want a draw, and that means we stay in the race to qualify for the World Cup.”

Zimbabwe returned to world football after an 18-month Fifa ban and have completely revamped their squad, which used to be made up primarily of South African-based players.

Broos believes that The Warriors will be a serious threat when the two teams meet next week.

“The other game against Zimbabwe is different. It’s a game between neighbours. I think that Zimbabwe, after the ban, they have another team with another coach. So, from that side, it will be a difficult game.”