‘It’s not a strong group’ – Bafana Bafana coach Broos rubbishes Super Eagles threat

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has allayed the fears of South Africans ahead of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, insisting that their qualifying group is not a strong one.

The Belgian trainer made this known after naming his final 23-man squad against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

South Africa currently sit in second place in Group C, after beating Benin 2-1 before losing 2-0 on a waterlogged pitch to Rwanda.

Bafana Bafana will face the Super Eagles on 7 June at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo before hosting the Warriors on 11 June at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

Hugo Broos optimistic as Bafana Bafana gear up for World Cup quest

Despite the hurdles ahead, head coach Hugo Broos remains optimistic about their chances. Reflecting on the team's progress and aspirations, the 72-year-old shared his thoughts in an interview with SABC.

“We’ve had much progress in the last two years, and the results are there, now we want more. When you’re a sportsman, you want more. So we want to go to the World Cup,” Broos told SABC.

“It will not be easy, because when you look at the group, it’s maybe not a strong group, but it’s a tricky group because we have Zimbabwe, Lesotho, all the countries around South Africa.

So, it will be not easy, and certainly with Nigeria too. But I think we have confidence and we believe in ourselves because of the performances of the AFCON. We will see in the next one year where we stand, but the mission is to go to the World Cup certainly.”

Hugo Broos @ Icon Sport
Photo by Icon Sport

Broos’ confidence is backed by recent performances. Reflecting on a thrilling 3-3 draw against Algeria in an international friendly in March, he highlighted the team’s growth and resilience.

“What a game! It was a fantastic game from both teams, but the performance of South Africa was really good,” Broos continued, stating, “We played against a very strong team, but I do not think there was much difference between the quality of our game and the quality of the game in Algeria. That means we have progressed in the last few months. We already showed that in the AFCON, and we did it again against Algeria. So, I don’t think we have to be afraid anymore of playing against any team in Africa.”

Bafana Bafana vs Super Eagles head-to-head

To the uninitiated, Nigeria vs South Africa should not generate as much passion as it does, seeing as the two countries are so far apart on the map.

Yet there is nothing contrived about the rivalry shared by these continental giants—spilling over from diplomatic tensions into the sporting arena and beyond, going all the way back to South Africa's apartheid days—and as they take on each other in June's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, there will be no shortage of intensity and hostility.

There have been a total of 15 previous meetings between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana, with the Super Eagles winning eight times, Bafana Bafana winning two, and five matches ending in stalemates.

Bafana Bafana vs Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Their first meeting was on 10 October 1992, in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, with Nigeria comfortably defeating South Africa 4-0. Their last meeting was at the last AFCON in Ivory Coast, with Nigeria emerging victors via penalty shootouts after the game ended 1-1.

South Africa vs Zimbabwe head-to-head

The footballing rivalry between South Africa and Zimbabwe is one of the most intriguing in African football.

With a total of 17 encounters, the matchups between these two nations have been anything but predictable, showcasing a rich history of competition, passion, and moments of brilliance on both sides.

The rivalry dates back to the early 1990s, a period marked by significant transitions in both nations.

Their first clash took place during the qualifiers for the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations. The stage was set at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, where Zimbabwe displayed an overwhelming performance, thrashing South Africa with a resounding 4-1 victory.

This initial encounter set the tone for a competitive series of matches, highlighting Zimbabwe's early dominance.

Over the years, the rivalry has evolved, with both teams achieving periods of success. Out of the 17 matches played, South Africa and Zimbabwe have each secured seven wins, while three matches have ended in draws.

This balanced record confirms the evenly-matched nature of the teams, with neither side able to claim definitive superiority over the other.

One of the most memorable matches in this rivalry occurred on 24 April 1993, when the two sides met in the reverse fixture of the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The most recent chapter in this ongoing saga took place on 11 November 2021, during the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In a closely contested match, Bafana Bafana emerged as 1-0 victors.

Can South Africa qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup?

South Africa, under the leadership of head coach Hugo Broos, face a challenging journey to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Let's explore whether Bafana Bafana have the capabilities to secure a spot in this highly-competitive tournament.

South Africa are placed in Group C alongside Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Benin, Rwanda, and Lesotho. Broos has commented that their qualifying group is not particularly strong, which may suggest cautious optimism.

Nigeria stand out as formidable opponents, boasting a strong footballing tradition and a talented squad. Zimbabwe, Benin, Rwanda, and Lesotho also present challenges and will be tough competitors.

Recent performances indicate that South Africa have shown potential, with solid displays during the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Although they didn't qualify for the final tournament, the team under Broos' management has shown signs of improvement and resilience. The challenge now lies in building on this progress and maintaining consistency throughout the qualifying campaign.

South Africa players @ Icon Sport
Photo by Icon Sport

Qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be a demanding task for South Africa, given the competitive nature of their group.

While Broos' assessment may suggest some optimism, the path ahead is challenging. With Broos' leadership, strategic planning, and consistent performances, Bafana Bafana have the potential to secure their place in the tournament.

The upcoming qualifiers will be a critical test of their determination and ability to compete at the highest level.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.