2026 World Cup qualifiers: South Africa and Tanzania off to a good start

South Africa and Tanzania won their first matches of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Saturday, November 18, against Benin (2-1) and Niger (1-0) respectively.

The South Africans won their first match of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Benin (2-1) on November 18, 2023. AFP - PHILL MAGAKOE

By: RFI Follow


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Favourites against Benin, South Africa made the logic respect at the Moses-Mabhida Stadium on Saturday 18 November. Bafana Bafana won 2-1 in their first match of these 2026 World Cup qualifiers, enough to take control of Group C on the first day as all other matches ended in a draw.

It was Percy Tau, the Al Ahly striker, who opened the scoring from the outset (2′) in a duel with the Beninese goalkeeper, following a precise pass from Sphephelo Sithole, who exploited the boulevards left in the opposing defence. Then, Khuliso Mudau broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time, helped by a very unacademic run from Saturnin Allagbe, who gifted him the goal on a platter. Steve Mounié reduced the deficit (70′) with a fine right-footed volley, without consequence.

Tanzania win in a close match

At the end of a very poor match, only two shots at half-time, Niger lost to Tanzania by the narrowest of margins (1-0). Not much to report over the 90 minutes. Except for a superb free-kick from Tanzanian captain Mbwana Samatta that crashed against the bar and deserved a better fate, Charles M'Mombwa's shot was blocked, which gave his team the victory (56') and a golden opportunity in front of the empty goal wasted by Haji Mnoga (73').

Algerian coach Adel Amrouche's men join at the top of the table, awaiting the first match of Morocco, favourites in Group E.

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