South Africa vs Benin: Bafana Bafana begin 2026 World Cup qualifiers with a win

South Africa vs Benin: Bafana Bafana begin 2026 World Cup qualifiers with a win
Credit: Icon Sport

Bafana Bafana of South Africa got their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign underway in a Group C opening match against Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Hugo Broos‘ side were confident of taking full advantage of proceedings in the group following Nigeria's surprising 1-1 draw with Lesotho on Thursday.

The team left no stone unturned as they began the match in electrifying fashion against the West Africans with a chance within two minutes after kick-off.

Forward Percy Tau combined with Aubrey Modiba to score the opening goal after just two minutes.

The visitors responded with some attacks of their own which yielded no goals.

However, at the stroke of halftime, Khuliso Mudau doubled the advantage for South Africa before a fight-back from Benin in the second half ensured the match ended in a thrilling fashion but with a win for Broos' side.

Let's delve into the match summary!

Bafana Bafana with a two-goal lead at half-time

Broos started six Mamelodi Sundowns players: Ronwen Williams, Khuliso Mudau, Modiba, Mothobi Mvala, Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane while Tau came back into the team after missing the last two games for South Africa.

Within two minutes into the action, Bafana took the lead as former Sundowns star Tau combined well with Modiba to open the scoring.

Bafana Bafana players celebrate goal
Credit: Icon Sport

Both teams began to test each other with possession with no other clear-cut chances until Benin threatened midway into the first half when captain Steve Mounie struck wide off the mark after a long-range throw-in.

However, with barely a minute left to the break, Bafana Bafana increased their tally as Zwane's loose ball from close range ricocheted off Allagbe and fell for Mudau, who guided it into the roof of the net to give South a two-goal lead at half-time.

Bafana Bafana survive Benin's fight for a come-back

The second half started with a substitution for Benin as Steven Traore came on for Andreas Hountondji in a bid to get themselves back into the game.

Bafana Bafana continued to take care of proceedings but an injury to Evidence Makgopa in the 52nd minute meant that Zakhele Lepasa got into the action.

Both teams would make further changes in a couple of minutes with Nkosinathi Sibisi coming on for Mvala for South Africa, while Dokou Dodo replaced Rodrigue Kossi for the visitors in the 67th minute.

Bafana Bafana players celebrate goal
Credit: Icon Sport

Benin probed for a goal in the few minutes and indeed pulled one back from captain Mounie who finished off from a Jodel Dossou's assist in the 70th minute.

Bafana Bafana sought to increase their lead as Benin began to feel they could bring themselves back into the end as it became an end-to-end affair at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Nonetheless, Broos' men survived the onslaught from the visitors and took all three points to cushion an early lead on top of the table.

The victory left Bafana Bafana on top of the standings with 3 points while Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have 1 point, respectively, with Benin ranked bottom of Group C.

South Africa will take on Rwanda in the second World Cup qualifying fixture next Tuesday as they conclude their last competitive fixture this year before the AFCON tournament kick-starts in January.

Bafana Bafana confirmed lineups: Williams (GK); Mudau, Xulu, Mvala, Modiba, Mokoena, Sithole, Zwane, Hlongwane, Tau, Makgopa.

Subs: Goss, Mothwa, Sibisi, Mobbie, Cross, Adams, Lepasa, Mthethwa, Kekana, Xoki, Appollis, Mayambela, Mokwana.

This article was most recently revised and updated 7 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.