Ex-Nigeria coach says Bafana Bafana are the best

Benin head coach Gernot Rohr has admitted that he feels Bafana Bafana are the best team in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying group, which also includes African powerhouse Nigeria, along with Rwanda, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. 

Nigeria’s hopes of reaching the 2026 World Cup in North America took another backward step after they suffered a 2-1 defeat to Benin in the same week that they drew 1-1 against South Africa in Uyo at the start of the month. 

The victory saw Benin move to third place in the group with seven points, behind Bafana Bafana and Rwanda only on goal difference, while the Super Eagles remained second-bottom with just three points earned after four WC qualification matches, and still in search of their first victory in qualifying. 

Gernot Rohr feels Benin has ‘little’ chance to qualify

Despite beating the Super Eagles, who are the highest-ranked side in the CAF region in Group C, the Cheetahs were unable to overcome Bafana Bafana when they met last November, with Hugo Broos’s side running out 2-1 winners at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban thanks to first-half goals from Percy Tau and Kuliso Mudau. 

In a recent interview, Roer conceded that while the Cheetahs are still in the mix to qualify for the tournament to be held in Canada, Mexico and the US, he feels that his side are unlikely to achieve the feat, while also admitting that South Africa are the team to beat of the remaining sides in the group. 

“South Africa are number one, we have to be realistic. Number two can still be Nigeria if they all come together in good spirit with all the players highly motivated.

“They have to beat Lesotho, they can beat Rwanda, they can beat Zimbabwe, they should beat all these teams. And at home, they can beat Benin, but I think we can also beat Nigeria again. So, if they win these four matches it's four points, and if they beat South Africa, I think they can still do it. But, they have to beat South Africa in South Africa, which will not be easy. And for me, Benin also has a little chance,” the Benin manager said.

Rohr on Super Eagles absentees

Rohr went on to suggest that a major part of the Super Eagles' struggles in World Cup qualifying has been the absence of three key players, including Nantes winger Moses Simon, PAOK centre-back William Troost-Ekong and African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen of Serie A side Napoli. 

“It was difficult for them without (Victor) Osimhen, (William) Ekong, and Moses Simon. It’s a good team Finidi (George) has, and perhaps missing the very best players and Osimhen also, he can have some explanations for the defeats.

“It’s possible that in all the last games, there can be a decision in Uyo when we play Nigeria. It could be a final because the Super Eagles will come back,” Rohr said. 

Avatar photo
Devesh Jaganath