Neighbours South Africa and Zimbabwe will be rekindling their old football rivalry on Friday afternoon. The two nations will meet for the 16th time since South Africa’s readmission back into the international fold in 1992.
But it will only be the fifth official match between the two countries in 29-years.
The Warriors and Bafana Bafana will face off in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Harare.
Very little separates the two sides in their head-to-head record, with Zimbabwe slightly ahead with seven wins. Bafana Bafana has beaten Zimbawe six times before, with the other two matches ending in a stalemate.
But South Africa has only lost once to Zimbabwe in four official matches. Bafana Bafana suffered a 4-1 drubbing in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Zimbabwe in August 1992.
The return leg a year later ended in a 1-all draw. The other two official meetings were in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, with South Africa winning both legs.
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is confident ahead of the encounter.
“As you know it’s a tough opponent, it’s our neighbours so it’s a little bit special. But on the other side, I’m confident and I know that we can do it we can have a good result in Zimbabwe it needs a special mentality.”
Zimbabwe has never qualified for a FIFA World Cup but has participated in five AFCON tournaments. The team has grown in leaps and bounds and will pose a serious threat to the young and new-look Bafana Bafana.
New Bafana Bafana captain, Ronwen Williams, admits this will be a tricky encounter.
“Definitely, I mean it’s always rivalry you know, once it got out there was a lot of talk about it obviously everyone wants to beat South Africa. Everyone wants to play us so it’s gonna be a nice one, it’s gonna be a challenge obviously we know each other very well I mean three-quarters of their team is playing in South Africa you know they know us well but. But in saying that we know what to do, we know how to beat them we’ve done it before. Obviously, they’ve beaten us before so it’s a new ball game now we just looking forward to the game.”
The fortunes of the two sides have changed in recent years. Zimbabwe has since qualified for three AFCONS in a row, with Bafana Bafana having now failed to qualify for their fourth AFCON tournament in 11 years, including next year’s edition in Cameroon.
Al Ahly forward, Percy Tau, says qualifying for the World Cup will be a relief after missing out on the AFCON.
“Look, it’s sad that we are not in AFCON and we had great games leading up to the game against Sudan. I don’t think one game defines our campaign in our process during the AFCON, and we tried but it was unfortunate that we couldn’t get the result to go to the AFCON and now we look forward to the world cup qualifiers. It might be another opportunity to lose out on AFCON and go to the world cup so who knows.”
South Africa has suffered a major blow ahead of the match with Thabiso Kutumela and Thibang Phethe ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Friday’s match against Zimbabwe will be screened live on SABC 1 at three o’clock.
Bafana Bafana’s second World Cup qualifier against the Black Stars of Ghana on Monday evening will also be broadcast live on SABC 3.