Rayners looking to ‘score a goal or two’, impress for Bafana against Algeria

Marc Strydom Digital Sports Editor
Iqraam Rayners in action for Bafana Bafana in their 2023 Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban in July 2023.
Iqraam Rayners in action for Bafana Bafana in their 2023 Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban in July 2023.
Image: Rogan Ward/Gallo Images

Iqraam Rayners knows if he can score “one or two goals” in what should be a tightly contested international friendly for Bafana Bafana against Algeria in Algiers on Tuesday night, he can put himself firmly on the national team radar.

Coach Hugo Broos has said the 28-year-old Stellenbosch FC striker will start against the Fennec Foxes at what is sure to be a packed 40,000-seat Stade Nelson Mandela (11pm SA time).

Rayners’ seven goals in 17 DStv Premiership games (eight in 26 league and cup matches) have been integral in his club’s strong 2023-2024 campaign where the Cape winelands team are the Carling Knockout champions and in fourth place in the league.

On Tuesday Rayners will be trying to take that performance up a notch — Broos has lamented that strikers in the Premiership battle with the step up to international level — as he auditions for a place in the Bafana squad for June’s World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

“For me to achieve in that game [against Algeria] would be to score one or two goals, do my best for the team and help the team win it,” Rayners said.

“It’s always a good opportunity playing for the national side. I’m happy to be here, given this opportunity by the coach and technical team.

“I was chatting to my family and they said, ‘Just believe in yourself, do what you do at your club’.

“The camp is always good. I’m happy with the guys, they motivate me and, yes, it’s a good opportunity for me.”

Khanyisa Mayo, consistently in the Premiership’s top scorers for Cape Town City in the past two-and-a-half seasons, seems an example of a local-based striker who finds goals at domestic level but finds the step up to Bafana challenging from a league, the standard of which Broos has raised questions over.

Mayo got a start in Bafana’s 1-1 draw against 164th-ranked Andorra in Annaba on Thursday night in the first of the two Fifa Series friendlies South Africa are playing in Algeria. The striker battled to make an impression.

Orlando Pirates’ Evidence Makgopa, who is injured, but who Broos hopes to have back in June, is a PSL-based striker who has managed to make an impression under the 71-year-old Belgian coach. The strapping centre-forward impressed as Bafana ran Ghana close in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and then again as South Africa won bronze at last month’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Rayners, who replaced Mayo in the 80th minute against Andorra, will look to Makgopa’s example for inspiration as he starts for 58th-ranked Bafana against 43rd-ranked Algeria.

He will have a far stronger combination around him than the largely experimental XI Broos fielded against Andorra, including most of Mamelodi Sundowns’ late-arriving seven-player contingent.

But the Foxes, who beat 86th-ranked Bolivia 3-2 at Stade Mandela on Friday night, are also keyed up to win back public support after bombing out of the Nations Cup in the opening round and to impress new Bosnian-born Swiss coach Vladimir Petković.

Rayners is getting his second taste of international football having helped a severely depleted Bafana win bronze at the 2023 Cosafa Cup in Durban, where he scored a goal against Botswana. 

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