2026 World Cup qualifiers: Window of opportunity for Bafana Bafana as Rwanda lose to Benin

The Amavubi’s defeat to the Squirrels has given South Africa a big boost in their qualification quest 

Bafana Bafana have an opportunity to move top of their World Cup qualifying group if they secure victory against Nigeria on Friday following Rwanda’s loss to Benin.

Group leaders Rwanda suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Benin when Dodo Dokou’s volley settled the tie at the Stade Felix Houphouet Boign in Abidjan on Thursday.

Victory saw Benin move to second place in Group C on four points from three matches, same as Rwanda, but with an inferior goal difference to the Amavubi, while South Africa have three from two games.

South Africa have an opportunity to move top of the group

Nigeria, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have two points each from two matches but that will change after Friday’s round of matches.

South Africa have an opportunity to move top of the group if they can secure victory against the Super Eagles in Uyo which would give them a two-point cushion over both Rwanda and Benin before playing Zimbabwe next week.

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos said early in the week that he is targeting four points from the two matches, which points to a draw with Nigeria and a win back home against Zimbabwe, but he has been given a window of opportunity to hunt for victory in Uyo following Rwanda’s result.

Bafana Bafana can finish the June qualifiers on nine points

Group C has seen surprising results so far with South Africa themselves suffering a shock 2-0 loss away to Rwanda, having beaten Benin 2-1 at home, while 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finalists Nigeria have drawn back-to-back games against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

It puts the Super Eagles under immense pressure to win at their own backyard but South Africa can take advantage of the chaos to spring a surprise and walk away with all three points.

That would give Broos’ men plenty of confidence heading into Matchday four against Zimbabwe with a chance to finish the June qualifiers on nine points. 

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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.