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Coach Broos confident his charges will collect maximum points encounter against Zim

EXCITED local fans flocked to the Free State Stadium on Monday, 10 June 2024, to watch Bafana Bafana train ahead of their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe.

The match against Zimbabwe on Tuesday, 11 June 2024, will be the first time Bafana has played in the city since the 2010 World Cup, and the fans even visited the airport to welcome their heroes.

Meanwhile, Bafana coach Hugo Broos is oozing confidence that they’ll qualify for the 2026 Fifa World Cup if they win all their home matches in the group stage qualifiers.

Bafana will host neighbours Zimbabwe in their fourth group stage qualifier at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein this evening (6pm kick-off).

A win from that match will see the South African national team amass seven points in Group C, having beaten Benin and lost to Rwanda before holding Nigeria to a 1-all draw in Uyo on Friday night.

Bafana’s draw with Nigeria was hard-earned as the team endured a lot of challenges, including flight delays, long bus trips and change in accommodation, ahead of the game. But having had a seamless trip from Uyo to Bloemfontein on Saturday, the team has been hard at work preparing for the game against the Warriors.

Broos has stressed that he’ll be very upset if they don’t win this game, given that they have an edge over their neighbours in terms of the quality at their disposal.

And that’s not all. The silver-haired Belgian believes that if they win all their home games, they should be able to book their tickets to the World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico.

And with Lesotho and Zimbabwe likely to host Bafana here in South Africa because their stadiums do not meet Fifa standards, Broos says they’ll treat those matches as home games.

After all, Bafana are expected to have the 12th man behind them – like they’ll probably do in the City of Roses tonight – whenever they play at home.

“I think if you win all your games at home then you’ll be very close (to qualifying for the World Cup),” said Broos, who was speaking in the pre-match media conference for their clash against the Warriors deep in the bowels of Free State State Stadium in Bloemfontein yesterday.

“Like the situation is now, we have two more games. Lesotho and Zimbabwe don’t play in their countries (and) that … means we have seven home games.

“So, if you multiply seven by three that’s 21 points. And then I think we’ll qualify then. So it’s a challenge, but it’s possible. But let’s start with a victory tomorrow (today).”

The Bafana team has shown a huge improvement since Broos took over, having also achieved their best finish in 24 years at the recent Africa Cup of Nations – third place.

“I am confident like I am always with the team,” Broos said.

“I know the boys, and they’ll be ready for tomorrow (today). But the game still has to be played, so I hope that after the 90 minutes we’ll be able to keep the three points in South Africa.”

But while Bafana should win the game with ease, Broos knows that it is fickle at the top and they can’t afford to underestimate their neighbours.

In fact, Broos recalls the trouble his team endured in his first game for Bafana against the Warriors in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in which they finished second in the group behind Ghana.

Zimbabwe are set to be a tricky opponent given that they are a new-look team under coach Jairos Tapera, who’s holding the fort on an interim basis.

“The game against Zimbabwe is always difficult,” Broos said.

“We played three years ago, and that was my first game as the coach of South Africa. It was not easy. We drew and returned here where we won 1-0 and that was not easy as well. They are neighbours. A game against neighbours is not easy.

“But on our side, there are many things that have changed in the last three years. We are a better team now.”

Image (Barking out orders. Bafana coach Hugo Broos confident his charges will collect maximum points in tonight’s encounter).

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