Why did Bafana Bafana name a preliminary squad?

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos on Wednesday named a 36-member preliminary squad for next month’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

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Bafana Bafana face Nigeria’s Super Eagles away from home in Uyo on Friday, 7 June (21:00 SA time) and then return to host Zimbabwe at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, 11 June at 18:00.

The final 23-member squad will be announced in the coming days.

Bafana Bafana will return to Bloemfontein for the first time since the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

They last played in the City of Roses when they beat France 2-1 in the global FIFA tournament 14 years ago.

The gates at Free State Stadium will open at 15:00 and tickets are priced at R50 for adults.

Kids, scholars and students will pay R20 (school uniform and student cards required for over 12-year-olds).

Tickets are available at TicketPro outlets, Spar, SuperSpar, Putco, Postnet etc.

2026 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS

Bafana Bafana have been drawn in Group C along with Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho and Benin.

After two rounds of matches, Bafana Bafana lie in second place with three points having beaten Benin 2-1 at home and lost 2-0 to Rwanda in the Central African country.

Nigeria sit in third place after 1-1 draws against Zimbabwe and Lesotho.

Zimbabwe are in fifth spot – also following two draws – against Rwanda (0-0) and Nigeria (1-1).

The CAF qualification structure for the 2026 FIFA World Cup has changed from previous years.

A record nine teams will qualify for the 2026 World Cup – and a 10th is a possibility.

All 54 FIFA-affiliated football associations from CAF entered qualification.

Teams were drawn into nine groups of six teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches.

However, Eritrea withdrew before matches began, leaving five teams in Group E.

The winner of each of the nine groups will qualify for the World Cup.

In addition, the four best-ranked group runners-up will participate in a playoff to determine which team will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States.