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South Africa national football team
World Cup Qualifying - Africa | Group Stage
Jun 11, 2024 at 5pm UK
Al Salam Stadium
Zimbabwe national football team

South Africa
3 - 1

Rayners (1'), Morena (55', 76')
Mokoena (52')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Chirewa (2')

Preview: South Africa vs. Zimbabwe - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's World Cup Qualifying - Africa clash between South Africa and Zimbabwe, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

South Africa will be looking for another home win in the CAF World Cup Qualifiers when they take on neighbours Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Group C is still wide open, with only three points separating the current unexpected leaders Lesotho from the bottom-placed Zimbabwe heading into week four of the competition.

Match preview

South Africa's players celebrate after Themba Zwane scores their second goal on January 21, 2024© Reuters

South Africa, who will be playing at the Free State Stadium for the first time since 2010, secured a 1-1 draw away to Nigeria in Uyo on Friday night, which saw them slip to fourth place in the group standings, though they are still just one point off the top.

While they would undoubtedly have wanted all three points as payback for their defeat against the Super Eagles in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, a point from what should be their toughest away game of the group will likely be seen as a satisfactory return.

Bafana Bafana took the lead in Uyo thanks to the evergreen Themba Zwane, who proved yet again why his experience is invaluable. Sheffield Wednesday's Fisayo Dele-Bashiru found a leveller in the second half, and while the South Africans poured forward in the closing stages, they could not find the go-ahead goal.

Next up for Hugo Broos's side are Zimbabwe, who they met in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and played to a 0-0 draw in Harare in September 2021, before winning the return game 1-0 in Johannesburg in November of the same year.

In terms of all-time head-to-head statistics, these two have faced each other in 17 matches since 1992, with both Bafana Bafana and the Warriors securing seven wins each, while the remaining three matches ended level.

Zimbabwe's Kudakwashe Mahachi celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on January 18, 2022© Reuters

Meanwhile, after qualifying for three successive Africa Cup of Nations tournaments between 2016 and 2021, Zimbabwe did not feature in the Ivory Coast competition earlier this year, having been banned by FIFA, along with Eritrea.

It has been a difficult few years for the Warriors, with several players switching allegiances to pursue international football elsewhere while securing a permanent head coach to help rebuild the side has also proven a major challenge.

Zimbabwe's interim coach Jairos Tapera, who was a surprise replacement for yet another caretaker coach Norman Mapeza, admitted that the Warriors need to improve defensively after his side suffered a frustrating 2-0 'home' loss to Lesotho in Johannesburg on Friday.

That result marked the third consecutive match in all competitions that the Warriors conceded two or more goals, while they are yet to win a match in regulation time since they were allowed to return to international competition in September last year.

Nevertheless, while bouncing back will be no easy task for Zimbabwe, they often raise their game a notch whenever they come up against their neighbours and could spring a surprise here if Bafana Bafana are as wasteful as they were last week.

South Africa World Cup Qualifying - Africa form:

South Africa form (all competitions):

Zimbabwe World Cup Qualifying - Africa form:

Zimbabwe form (all competitions):

Team News

South Africa's Grant Kekana is shown a red card by referee Amin Mohamed Omar on February 7, 2024© Reuters

Due to a hamstring injury, Mamelodi Sundowns defender Grant Kekana was forced to withdraw from the South African training camp ahead of the Nigeria game and was replaced by Given Msimango of Kaizer Chiefs.

Broos will be demanding more of Percy Tau in this match after the Al Ahly attacker squandered several chances last week, including a very presentable one-on-one, which he ballooned over the crossbar.

Burnley striker Lyle Foster and captain Ronwen Williams were both flagged as doubts for last week's match but were passed fit ahead of kickoff and are in contention for selection this week.

Zimbabwe suffered a major blow just ahead of their loss to Lesotho, with Plymouth Argyle defender Brendan Galloway sustaining an injury that will keep him out of this match as well.

Teenage Hadebe arrived at the side's training camp in Johannesburg just in time to make the starting lineup and should form the central defensive pairing in this one alongside Gerald Takwara.

South Africa possible starting lineup:
Williams; Mudau, Ngezana, Mvala, Modiba; Adams, Sithole, Mokoena, Tau; Zwane, Foster

Zimbabwe possible starting lineup:
Donovan; Mbeba, Hadebe, Takwara, Lunga; Rinomhota, Machope, Munetsi; Musona, Kadewere, Msendami

SM words green background

We say: South Africa 1-0 Zimbabwe

South Africa are coming off a successful Africa Cup of Nations campaign and are now looking to reach their first World Cup since they hosted the tournament back in 2010. In addition, they have retained almost the exact same squad that they took to the Ivory Coast earlier this year and look like a more well-drilled unit than most in this group.

It is usually an absorbing encounter when these neighbouring rivals meet and it should be no different here, but we fancy the hosts will be able to edge the result.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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