Bafana look for solid start in Harare

South Africa will look to get their 2022 World Cup Qualifying Group G campaign off to a solid start when they face hosts Zimbabwe at the National Sports Stadium in Harare today.

SA (who have appeared at three World Cups: 1998, 2002 and 2010) won the recent Cosafa Cup, defeating Senegal on penalties in the final, though that success has done little to dull the pain of the national team failing to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations – an issue which saw the departure of former coach Molefi Ntseki and the arrival of Hugo Broos.

The Belgian will have his first competitive match in charge of Bafana and has stressed the importance of avoiding defeat in their Group G opener.

“I don’t like to predict that we will win or that the score will be 2-1 or whatever. The only thing I want and hope is that we have a good result in Zimbabwe,” said the 69-year-old.

“A draw in Zimbabwe will be a good result, it will give us confidence for the next game against Ghana. Because losing, especially with a heavy score, will not do the players’ confidence any good. I hope we will draw and take it from there. We will try to win, I am not saying we are going for a draw.”

Zimbabwe, who have never qualified for a World Cup, were last in action in July in the Cosafa Cup in South Africa, where they finished bottom of a group containing Senegal, Mozambique, Namibia and Malawi.

The Warriors, who will appear at next year’s AFCON, named a strong squad for the start of this campaign, though they have been beset by complications over player availability due to ‘red list’ Covid-19 travel concerns.

Nonetheless, Coach Zdravko Logarusic is confident of a strong showing, starting with the clash against South Africa.

“We have a fantastic squad of big players, big personalities and big stars and what I want from the Warriors is this: The Warriors must be a team, a team of Warriors, because one Warrior means nothing,” said the Croatian tactician.

In head-to-head stats, Zimbabwe and South Africa have met in 15 matches across all competitions and friendlies since their first clash back in 1992. The Warriors have claimed seven wins compared to six for Bafana Bafana, with two games drawn.

The teams’ most recent meeting was a friendly at FNB Stadium in September 2013 which Zimbabwe won 2-1, thanks to goals from Cuthbert Malajila and Knowledge Musona.

Following this match, Zimbabwe will face Ethiopia in Bahir Dar on September 7, while South Africa will host Ghana in Soweto on September 6. –Backpage

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