SOWETAN SAYS | More varied venues will boost Bafana

Bafana Bafana couch Hugo Broos
Bafana Bafana couch Hugo Broos
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

It’s mission accomplished for Bafana Bafana in their quest to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, after their matches against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Coach Hugo Broos had set a target of four points from the two games, and Bafana did just that, drawing with the Super Eagles last Friday and comfortably beating Zimbabwe’s Warriors in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

Our team are now second on Group C table, joint on points with leaders Rwanda but trailing only because of goal difference. There’s still a long way to go, of course, but we applaud the team for fulfilling the coach’s mandate.

While the 1-1 draw away to Nigeria in Uyo last week was impressive, we were particularly chuffed at Bafana’s performance against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein where, for a change, the team played in front of a packed stadium in a home fixture.

Even Broos heaped praise on the Bloem locals for coming out in numbers, in chilly conditions, to help the team see off Zimbabwe 3-1 at the Free State Stadium.

This is indeed confirmation that Bafana are a national brand. We hope Safa has learnt from Tuesday’s experience to spread the national team’s games across the country, and not merely restrict them to Gauteng, where attendance has been shockingly inadequate.

We are aware that Tuesday’s attendance was boosted in the main by the fact that Bloemfontein has been starved of top professional football for the past three seasons since Celtic were sold to Shauwn Mkhize. But the fact that Bafana were playing there for the first time since the 2010 World Cup shows Safa has dropped the ball. The association has neglected certain places, preferring instead to concentrate Bafana games in Johannesburg despite the obvious fact that people in this city are spoilt for choice, with so many events around.

Even PSL teams suffer from this because not too many matches attract big crowds. The national team should be fully supported in their bid to win the group and book a place in the expanded World Cup taking place in North America two years from now.

Having missed out on the 2022 event by just goal difference, we are confident that Broos will fulfil his mission of making this Bafana bunch the first to qualify for a World Cup since 2002, which would be a massive achievement for a team who’ve improved so tremendously under the Belgian.

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