'It's up to us,' says Broos after Bafana opponents Nigeria drop points

The Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 by Lesotho in Abuja on Thursday

18 November 2023 - 09:00
By Sazi Hadebe
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is hoping the team will take advantage of Nigeria's loss to Lesotho in Abuja and qualify for the next World Cup.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is hoping the team will take advantage of Nigeria's loss to Lesotho in Abuja and qualify for the next World Cup.

Bafana Bafana's 2026 Fifa World Cup campaign could not have started on a better note as their main opponents in group C and nemesis Nigeria dropped two points in their opening match this week.

Hugo Broos is hoping his team can beat Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday to take advantage of a bad start by the Nigerians, who were held to a 1-1 by minnows and South Africa's neighbours Lesotho in Abuja on Thursday.

Lesotho's result against the Super Eagles, the highly ranked team in Bafana's group, will not only send shock waves throughout the African continent, but will surely boost Bafana's chances of qualifying for the World Cup first — the first since 2002.

All that Broos' team needs to do is to have positive results both home and away against Benin, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Rwanda, who are all part of group C.

The winner of the group will be part of the nine African sides that will automatically qualify for the 48-team showpiece that will be held in the US, Canada and Mexico in 2026.

Bafana were not only favoured by Nigeria's result this week as Rwanda were also held to 0-0 draw by Zimbabwe in another group C qualifier played on Wednesday.

So, a win for Bafana in Durban on Saturday will put them of top of the group, and that's what Broos, who has only suffered three in 21 matches as a Bafana coach, will be looking for.

"I always said that this was not the worst but a tricky group," said Broos after learning of Nigeria's result on Thursday.

"We've seen the results of the past days. They've shown us that I was right when I said that. All (two) the matches were draws and certainly the draw of Nigeria yesterday (Thursday) was a surprise. Therefore again, winning at home is very important."

Broos said he wasn't surprised at what Lesotho managed to do, saying they've never won by a big margin against big or highly rated opponents before.

"People are always talking about rankings, this is a big and that, you know every game against those teams is difficult. You saw Lesotho's result. They've never had so much big defeats.

"When they lose a game is 1-0 or 2-1 but not 6-0 like I saw in the game between Egypt and Djibouti, 6-0. You see that with those teams (like Lesotho). That means they're tough games and we know that it will be a tough game on the other side (for Bafana against Benin)."

For Bafana, Broos said it's critical that they start on a positive note against a Benin side ranked 93 in the world compared to Bafana who are at number 64 and 12th in Africa. 

"It will be important that we have a good start," Broos said after arriving with the team in Durban on Friday where he called for the South Africans to pack the venue on Saturday.

"We have to have the right mentality from the beginning. I know that on the side (Benin) they have a very experienced coach (Gernot Rohr, a former Nigeria coach). It's up to us what we can do tomorrow (Saturday), that we have three points. 

"A good start in qualifiers is very important and if you're a bit lucky you can put the pressure on your opponents. I think this is a big opportunity to do it and we have to grab it with both hands and win that game

"If we win, then it's a totally different mindset when we go to Rwanda (for the second qualifier on Tuesday) if we don't lose points tomorrow. So, it's up to us, but again I'm confident and I know what this team can do."