Mofokeng makes his debut! Bafana send Nigeria strong message with a near-perfect display against Zimbabwe

Bafana Bafana recorded just their second win in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers after claiming a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe at the Free State Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Tuesday evening.

The Hugo Broos-led team came into the match desperate to capitalise on Nigeria's shocking loss against Benin, and they did it in style thanks to goals from Iqraam Rayners and Thapelo Morena who scored a brace while Tawanda Chirewa found the target in favour of the visitors. There was a loud cheer for 19-year-old Relebogile Mofokeng as he came off the bench to replace the mercurial Oswin Appolis for his Bafana debut

It was the Warriors of Zimbabwe who started the game in the worst way possible; Munashe Garananga made a massive mistake inside the first 30 seconds, passing the ball to the advancing Rayners, and the Stellenbosch forward took the gift with open hands before firing a low shot past Godfrey Chitsumba in the opponent's goal.

However, Zimbabwe leveled matters in the second minute. Concentration lapses saw Marshall Munetsi restart the ball through a throw-in and it eventually fell to Watford attacker Tawanda Chirewa who danced his way past a forest of Bafana players before sniping past Ronwen Williams.

The Zimbabwe goal seemed to push South Africa to their best, but they found it tough against the Warriors who were aiming at getting off the bottom of the table.

Oswin Appollis thought he had doubled the advantage in the 19th minute when a precise pass from Rayners found him just outside the area, but Chitsumba's unbelievable reaction denied the former.

Lively Rayners could have easily scored a hattrick in the first half, but he saw his effort being ruled out for offside while the goalkeeper also did well to keep his side into the game.

At the stroke of halftime, thousands of Bafana Bafana fans went dead silent when the dangerous Chirewa was fed by Devine Lunga; he left the defender for dead before his curler missed the target by inches.

After the break, the hosts came back stronger, with every attack promising to end with the ball in the back of the net.

Percy Tau

Tau absence not felt – Super-sub Morena shines

Mamelodi Sundowns winger Thapelo Morena was introduced in the second half, replacing none-effective Elias Mokwana. It took the versatile attacker less than 10 minutes to give the home fans something to celebrate. 

Appollis' seemingly weak cross was fumbled by Chitsumba, and Morena thumped the ball into an empty net to restore Bafana's lead.

A long and precise ball from Teboho Mokoena put Morena in a one-on-one situation with Chitsumba in the 75th minute.

The Masandawana attacker rounded the keeper before getting his second of the night, and helping Bafana get a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe.

South Africa fans

Bafana back in contention – Broos side go second

The crucial Tuesday win put South Africa second in  Group C with seven points, the same as Rwanda who enjoy a superior goal difference.

The East Africans pulled a 1-0 win over Lesotho to the top of the group, as Benin dropped to third with seven points as well after their shocking win over the Super Eagles on Monday. 

Lesotho have five points, with Nigeria coming in with two as Zimbabwe stay at the bottom of the pool with just two.

Mofokeng makes his debut! Bafana send Nigeria strong message with a near-perfect display against Zimbabwe
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.