Hugo Broos explains why Nigeria should worry more than South Africa in World Cup qualifying

The Bafana Bafana coach feels the Super Eagles are at a disadvantage in their qualification journey

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos believes pressure is more on Nigeria than his team in their 2026 World Cup qualifying group.

South Africa are among three teams in Group C on four points, with Rwanda and Benin the other teams with a similar tally, while Lesotho are the surprise leaders on five from three matches.

Nigeria, meanwhile, are second from bottom on three points after three straight 1-1 draws, one ahead of Zimbabwe, who face South Africa on Tuesday.

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Mothobi Mvala of South Africa challenges Terem Moffi of Nigeria during the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers match between Nigeria and South Africa at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria on 7 June 2024 ©Justina Aniefiok/BackpagePix – Photo by Icon Sport

The table standing is against the formbook after 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finalists Nigeria were seen as favourites and Broos thinks the Super Eagles are feeling more pressure than anyone in Group C not just because of their pedigree, but by the fact that they failed to win their two home matches.

‘You need to win your home games first’

“That was very important for us not to lose that game, and I said yesterday, the pressure was on Nigeria, they have now played three draws, with two home games. And in the qualifiers that’s not really good. You need to win your home games first and then see that you can take some points, a victory outside [of your country]. So for us, we’re very happy with the point,” said Broos, whose team recorded a 1-1 draw with Nigeria in Uyo on Friday.

Broos feels the nature of the group means every team has a chance of making it to the World Cup considering some countries that were previously considered minnows have massively improved, as witnessed at AFCON 2023.

Finidi George confident of Super Eagles victory vs Benin
Samuel Chukwueze of Nigeria challenged by Elias Mokwana of South Africa during the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers match between Nigeria and South Africa at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria on 7 June 2024 ©Justina Aniefiok/BackpagePix – Photo by Icon Sport

“It’s not all top countries but it’s a very tricky group when you see the results after three games, it’s unbelievable. This is something that was the biggest chance in AFCON, the little countries progressed a lot,” added the Belgian tactician.

“You saw the results in AFCON in the second and third rounds. Normally, countries you don’t expect in AFCON, this is the problem for all teams in this group, every team can beat any team, and they can all take points, so I think it will be tough until the last matchday, I don’t think it will be decided before.”

Group C has sprung up some surprises

Indeed, Group C has sprung up some surprises with Rwanda’s 2-0 victory over South Africa among the major highlights.

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Meanwhile, Nigeria were held to back-to-back 1-1 stalemates by Lesotho and Zimbabwe before a similar outcome against Broos’ men.

The biggest shocker was the matchday one home draw with Lesotho with the side going on to record a goalless draw with Benin before beating Zimbabwe 2-0 last week to top the group.

Broos had targeted four points from the games against Nigeria and Zimbabwe and after achieving their target in Uyo, they need to complete the job against the Warriors in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

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Joel Oliver

Joel Oliver is a seasoned multimedia sports journalist with a rich background in covering diverse football stories and events in South Africa and beyond.

His extensive coverage spans subjects touching on the PSL, with a focus on the Big Three (Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs & Mamelodi Sundowns), Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana.