‘Winning most important’: Broos as Bafana get World Cup campaign off to good start
The win could have been far better but Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos was certainly not complaining after his charges pulled off a slim 2-1 victory over Benin in their opening 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Durban on Saturday.
Bafana were unable to add to Percy Tau and Khuliso Mudau's first-half goals despite dominating the match. They finished under pressure as Benin grew in confidence of snatching a huge point away after skipper Steve Mounie, who turns out for Brest in France's Ligue 1, pulled one goal back with 21 minutes remaining.
“It's very difficult to have a game where everything will go according to plan, but I was very happy we played before a [decent] crowd,” Broos said.
“It was a long time since I've seen a crowd like this since I am here [in South Africa, since June 2021]. So thanks to the Durban people.”
Broos said it does not matter how you win in important qualifiers, because the result could also have been worse, as it was for fellow group C hopefuls Nigeria. The Super Eagles were humbled in Abuja by minnows Lesotho, who held them to a shock 1-1 home draw in their opening match on Thursday.
Highlights of Bafana Bafana vs Benin.
Bafana went of top of group C with their win. The other two teams in the group, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, drew 0-0 in their opener on Wednesday.
South Africa can keep their position if they get another three points against Rwanda at Stade Huye in Butare on Tuesday (3pm SA time).
“You know it's not important [how you win a game], [or] if you create more chances than goals or more goals than chances. Winning the game is the most important thing in qualifiers. If you get 10 chances and lose the game, I think you will not be happy.
“It was a tough game and there will be more like this. When you can win those games, that's the most important thing.
“I think we started well and in the first half did what we had to do: scoring. But in the second half Benin played a simple game, kicking the ball up front to the centre-forward [Mounie], who is very strong with the head. And they were more aggressive with the ball too.
“We panicked a bit and conceded a goal and that was certainly not the plan. I had told the players at halftime to keep it to 2-0 and try to score the third one.
“But Benin's game changed totally in the second half. [They] pushed the ball up front and there's a big guy [Mounie] who wins every ball with the head and the rest are running onto the ball. It was very difficult to defend — but yes, we kept it [the lead] until the end and that's the most important thing.”
Broos has two injury concerns before flying to Rwanda, with central defender Mothobi Mvala (groin) and striker Evidence Makgopa (ankle) both not finishing the game on Saturday.
“I don't know [the extent of their injuries], we'll see tomorrow [Sunday]. We have a flight tomorrow [Sunday] already. It's up to the doctors to give a good diagnosis this evening [Saturday], then we'll see what we'll do for the travel to Rwanda — if we take two new players or maybe we can count on them [Mvala and Makgopa] on Tuesday.”
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