Bafana Bafana will be pursuing a crucial home victory in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers when they host Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday evening.

South Africa – playing in Bloemfontein for the first time since 2010 – held Nigeria to a 1-1 away draw on Friday night, placing them fourth in the standings, just one point off the top. This result, which is expected to be their toughest away game of Group C, left coach Hugo Broos relatively satisfied.

“First of all I think the result of a draw is correct, we had our chances and Nigeria had their chances,” said the Belgian, who believes a point away to the Super Eagles is valuable, but does not mean they should underestimate the challenge of so-called ‘smaller’ nations.

“Normally when you see the draw you know that Nigeria is going to be the opponent to be first in the group. When you come here you hope to have a minimum one point or not to lose the match which was important for us.

“I said before the match that pressure was on Nigeria because they have three successive draws and you know in qualifiers you need to win your home games. For us we are happy with the point.

“Our group is not of top countries but it is very tricky, look at the results after three games and it is unbelievable. This is something that was the biggest change at Afcon, where small countries progressed.”

Group C is wide open, with just three points separating (surprise) leaders Lesotho (5 points) from bottom-of-the-log Zimbabwe (two points). However, the Warriors will be enormously frustrated at having lost 2-0 at ‘home’ to Lesotho in Johannesburg on Friday.

“I am very disappointed with the result. The two goals that we conceded in the first half, I’m not happy at all because they were both due to defensive errors,” admitted coach Jairo Tapera.

“My boys played well in the second half and I am very happy with that performance. But it’s a game of football, we needed to respond and win the match.

“I am not disrespecting Lesotho, but we were supposed to beat them given what we have in terms of personnel as compared to them.”

Bouncing back will be a significant challenge for Zimbabwe, who often elevate their performance when facing their neighbors.

In their head-to-head stats, South Africa and Zimbabwe have faced each other 17 times since 1992. Both Bafana Bafana and the Warriors have secured seven wins each, with three matches ending in draws.

The teams last clashed in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, playing to a 0-0 draw in Harare in September 2021, before South Africa claimed a 1-0 victory in the return game in Johannesburg in November of the same year.