Neighbors in Southern Africa begin their bid to qualify for a four-year soccer show hosted by Qatar
South Africa and Zimbabwe resume their competition when they cross swords in Group G of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Friday at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
This is the first competitive match for South Africa under Hugo Broos, who was appointed as Bafana Bafana’s coach in May and replaced Molefi Ntseki.
The Belgian would like to convince Bafana followers early in this campaign that he is the right man to lead this team to the World Cup before he can host Ghana in their next match on Monday.
South Africa last qualified for the World Cup in 2002 before hosting the 2010 edition.
Their first appearance at the tournament was in 1998 and they face Zimbabwe who have never qualified before the World Cup.
In Zimbabwe, the confrontation against South Africa is popularly known as “The Battle of Limpopo”, the river that separates the two countries.
|Games||Zimbabwe vs South Africa|
|Date||Friday, September 3|
TV channel, live score and how to watch
|Online streaming||TV channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now app||SAUK 1|
Teams and team news
Zimbabwe coach Zdravko Logarusic is heading into the fight without Golden Arrows forward Knox Mutizwa, who tested positive for Covid-19.
The Warriors will also miss the services of AmaZulu defender Buthilezwe Ncube for the same health reasons.
But Mutizwa’s absence may not be a major concern for the Croatian, who still has captain Knowledge Musona to lead his attack with Lyon forward Tino Kadewere.
It is in defense that Zimbabwe is in crisis, as the former central defender of Kaizer Chiefs Teenage Hadebe could not travel from his US base due to his Covid-19 restrictions.
There is also concern about the fitness of another center-back Alec Mudimu, and Logarusic hinted that former Orlando Pirates midfielder Marshall Munetsi and Superismport United left-back Onismor Bhasera started in the heart of the defense.
Jimmy Dzingai could have been an option behind, but could not make it to the camp as he hunts just like former midfielder Ovidy Karuru.
Covid-19 regulations also deprive Zimbabwe of the opportunity to have stars in the UK, such as Marvelous Nakamba of Aston Villa, Tendayi Darikwa, captain of Reading, Jordan Zemura, full-back of Bournemouth, Macauley Bonne, Ipswich Town, Admiral Muskwe of Luton Town and former English youth international Brendan Galloway in the squad.
Like Zimbabwe who recorded two cases of Covid-19, Broos had to leave behind Portuguese defender Thibang Phete and Mamelodi Sundowns forward Thabiso Kutumela after the two tested positive for the virus.
But the absence of Phete is not a major concern for Broos, who still has to pick Siyanda Xulu, Austin Dube and Njabulo Ngcobo for the central defense.
Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Mothobi Mvala was injured but traveled to Harare and could take a few minutes.
South Africa had to endure the battle to lose defenders Mosa Lebusa and Innocent Maela due to injuries.
The fighting between South Africa and Zimbabwe has always been fierce.
The last time the two teams were in the same World Cup qualifying group, Bafana Bafana were at the top of the standings and reached the Korean / Japan 2002.
The last time Bafana visited Zimbabwe in a World Cup, they won 2-0 at the National Sports Stadium in July 2000.
Broos and his men would hope that the National Sports Stadium would give them a fruitful outing again.
But this match 21 years ago is something for Zimbabwe to forget, as it is the biggest stadium tragedy in the country’s sporting history.
When Delron Buckley scored Bafana’s second goal, there was unrest on the stands, leading to a rush that claimed 13 lives.
On Friday, the Warriors would like to avenge the painful day of victory and be able to repeat the 4-1 victory they would achieve their neighbors in the same place in August 1992.
The clash of 1992 has historical significance, as it was the first meeting between the two countries and also the first competitive match of South Africa since he was re-admitted to Fifa.
Since then, Bafana and the Warriors have met 15 times with Zimbabwe who achieved a slightly better record of seven wins against South Africa’s six matches, while two matches ended in a draw.
But it is now eight years since the two teams last fought each other.
The last time they met was in an international friendly at Orlando Stadium on September 10, 2013 when Zimbabwe walked away with 2-1 winners.
Of the players who appeared for Zimbabwe that night, they still have goalkeeper Washington Arubi, Bhasera, Musona and Kahamers Chiefs’ Khama Billiat in the current squad.
None of the Bafana players who have played the match are yet in the lineup of the national team.