Bafana’s 2-1 win over Benin puts them at the top of Group C.
Bafana Bafana opened their 2026 World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 victory over Benin in a match that was played at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
Striker Percy Tau and defender Khuliso Mudau were on target for South Africa, who came into the game knowing that a win would put them on top of group C after other matches in the group ended in draws during the week.
Bafana now top their group ahead of the trip to East Africa to play Rwanda on Tuesday. Rwanda were held to a goalless draw by Zimbabwe in their last match, also at home.
Bafana’s win depended a lot on Tau who has assumed a senior role in this team. He needed to raise his game in the absence of Burnley striker Lyle Foster who has been given time off to deal with mental health issues.
France-based forward Lebo Mothiba also pulled out of the team due to injury, leaving Tau as the main man in the front line. The Al-Ahly superstar didn’t disappoint as he notched up his 14th international goal in Bafana colours to settle some early nerves.
The fan-favourite needed only two minutes to make an immediate impact and give Bafana the lead after a good passage of play with South Africa circulating the ball around.
Tau found himself through on goal and he made no mistake with a lovely little chip over Benin goalkeeper Saturnin Allagbe.
Hugo Broos’ charges grew in confidence following the goal and so did the crowd as scores of fans also started filling up the lower-tier of the main stand at the 2010 FIFA World Cup venue.
Half time bonus
There was more joy on the stroke of half time when Khuliso Mudau fortuitously got on the end of a weak clearance by the Benin defence. The Mamelodi Sundowns tapped home to double Bafana’s lead with Allagbe off his line.
Tau and troops were good value for their 2-0 lead at the break after dominating the opening 45 minutes against the West Africans who could hardly put a string of passes together whenever they broke forward.
Benin pulled a goal back via their captain Steve Mounie after the ’96 AFCON champions switched off and allowed the Cheetahs to set up a tense finish to the game for the home crowd.
South Africa’s biggest rivals Nigeria played to a surprising 1-1 draw at home to minnows Lesotho on Thursday.