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Rwanda score at home for the first time in two years to upset Bafana in World Cup qualifier

Themba Zwane of South Africa is challenged by Thierry Manzi of Rwanda during their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Huye Stadium in Butare on Tuesday

Themba Zwane of South Africa is challenged by Thierry Manzi of Rwanda during their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Huye Stadium in Butare on Tuesday. Photo: Julius Ntare/BackpagePix

Published Nov 21, 2023


Rwanda caused an upset of monumental proportions by defeating Bafana Bafana 2-0 in a 2026 FIFA World Cup Group C qualifier at Stade Huye in Rwanda on Tuesday afternoon.,

In what was a first meeting between the two sides, Rwanda, hitherto on a six-game winless run across all competitions, netted two first-half goals for a well-deserved win.

The result ended Bafana Bafana's 11-match winning streak and was only their second loss in their last 18 games across all competitions. South Africa's national team are currently ranked 64th in the world according to the latest FIFA World Rankings and Rwanda is in 140th place.

The thunderstorm before the kick-off left a drenched surface in its wake. This made for a treacherous surface which made life hell for Bafana Bafana because they arrogantly failed to respect the conditions.

The opening minutes of play suggested that the conditions would be a great leveller and that was the case as the first half wore on and the South Africans were made to look average.

Many of their passes were intercepted. Also, they persisted with a short-passing game in their half and ultimately, they lacked penetration.

In the space of 16 minutes, the Rwandans scored twice to take an unbelievable 2-0 lead after only 28 minutes. The goals were scored by Innocent Nshuti and Gilbert Mugisha.

Bafana Bafana's chances of staging a fightback were stifled as Rwanda persisted with a long-ball game which saw their attackers run hard at the shaky opposition defence. This forced Bafana Bafana into a defensive role for a sustained period.

Even then when Bafana Bafana dispossessed their opponents, they foolishly tried to build attacks from deep options without success.

Towards the end of the first half, Bafana Bafana managed to wrest the initiative and their pressure forced two corners in added injury time. In both instances, Bafana Bafana was unable to capitalise and they retired from first-half action with a single shot at goal.

In stark contrast, Rwanda had four shots at goal two were on target and two goals to show for their efforts.

By the time the second half play resumed the ground staff had managed to clear some of the rainwater off the pitch but conditions remained testing for the players.

There were some encouraging signs for Bafana Bafana and 12 minutes into second-half play, they managed two shots at goal, although both were off target.

Coach Hugo Broos tried to inject some pace into the side’s attack by introducing Zakhele Lepasa for Bongokuhle Hlongwane. This helped to raise the attacking intent, but they continued to lose the ball in the final third and several promising movements came to nought.

By the time referee Amin Mohamed of Egypt blew the final whistle, Bafana Bafana had only four shots at goal but only one was on target, even though they enjoyed a glut of possession to the tune of 62%.

IOL Sport