Broos wowed by Bloem support for Bafana

Vibrant atmosphere drives SA to beat Zim in 2026 qualifier

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Image: Johan Pretorius

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has advocated for the national team to play more games at the Free State Stadium after enjoying a rare boisterous atmosphere in what was their first game in 14 years in Bloemfontein.

The football-hungry people of Free State, who were left without a PSL team when Bloemfontein Celtic sold their Premiership status to Royal AM in 2021, showered Bafana with love by filling the Free State Stadium to rafters, also creating a vibrant atmosphere to drive the side to beat Zimbabwe 3-1 in the 2026 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Bafana, who had last played in Free State during the 2010 World Cup when they beat France in their last game of the tournament at the same venue, have hardly enjoyed playing at a packed stadium in recent years. Broos feels the crown really powered them, saying the idea of playing more matches there must be entertained.

"I am happy with this fantastic crown. Everyone can see what a good crowd can do. The fans were behind the players. When you have a crowd like this, you go over the limit. In the second half, we got more and more confident and the fans were amused ... so, it was a fantastic evening,'' Broos said.

"[Mothobi] Mvala is from the region [hailing from Theunissen ], [Teboho] Mokoena is from the region [he's from Bethlehem] and the people of the Free State are very grateful for that. This makes me very happy ... you also saw after the game they wanted to see us back [on the field]. They are really, really good supporters and I think for the future we have to think about playing more games here at this stadium."

Broos admitted he had never experienced such an atmosphere as a Bafana coach since his arrival in May 2021. "Since I arrived, that's three years, I'd never had the atmosphere like today. You'll always produce good performances when you have a crowd like this behind you,'' Broos noted.

The win, courtesy of Thapelo Morena's second-half brace and Iqraan Rayner's goal 30 seconds into the game, put Bafana in a favourable position to qualify for the 2026 World Cup as they're now second in Group C on seven points, level with leaders Rwanda, who only have a better goal difference, after four games.

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