by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ONE of the continent’s most intense rivalries will resume on Friday when South Africa and Zimbabwe contest a Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup 2022 qualifier.
The neighbouring countries will play the Group G encounter at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe in what will be their 16th meeting.
It is almost eight years since Bafana Bafana of South Africa and Zimbabwe’s Warriors last met.
Friday’s encounter comes on the back of contrasting fortunes for the duo, with Zimbabwe having booked another berth in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and their southern neighbours again missing out.
The sides have served some memorable clashes and tragic meetings in a rivalry that dates back to 1992 after South Africa’s readmission to FIFA.
A fired-up Zimbabwe handed the visitors a 4-1 hiding at the National Sports Stadium in an AFCON qualifier.
Another memorable match was played at the old FNB Stadium at the inauguration of Thabo Mbeki as South African president in 1999.
Again Zimbabwe prevailed, winning the friendly encounter 1-0.
However, an encounter in 2000 ended in tragedy with the death of 12 fans in a stampede at the National Sports Stadium.
South Africa won the World Cup qualifier 2-0 against Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe have a slight edge in the head-to-head record, having won seven matches to South Africa’s six. Two of those encounters have been drawn.
The National Sports Stadium has only been temporarily approved to host upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) had ordered its closure (National Sports Stadium) after years of deterioration.
South Africa’s team assembled in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Addressing the media, coach Hugo Broos, said, “I think by the time we go to Zimbabwe we should be ready.”
He however maintained the Group G would be difficult.
Ethiopia and Ghana complete the group.
“Our group has three teams that have qualified for the AFCON, and playing six games in three months won’t be easy but we must be professionals and be ready,” Broos said.
Coached by Zdravko Logarušić, Zimbabwe will be counting on the experience of their South African-based players. Ten players based in the neighbouring country are in the squad.
The return encounter is on November 10.
Goalkeepers- Washington Arubi, Talbert Shumba, Martin Mapisa
Defenders – Alec Mudimu, Divine Lunga, Godknows Murwira, Kevin Moyo, Onismor Bhasera, Takudzwa Chimwemwe, William SItima
Midfielders – Blessing Sarupinda, Butholezwe Ncube, Farai Madhanaga, Ishmail Wadi, Jona Fabisch, Khama Billiat, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Marshall Munetsi, Perfect Chikwende, Silas Songani, Tafadzwa Rusike, Thabani Kamusoko
Strikers – Knowledge Musona (Captain), Knox Mutizwa, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Tinotenda Kadewere
SOUTH AFRICA SQUAD:
Goalkeepers – Ronwen Williams, Veli Mothwa, Bruce Bvuma, Sifiso Mlungwana
Defenders – Sydney Mobbie, Rushine De Reuck, Thapelo Morena, Siyanda Xulu, Thibang Phete, Thabani Dube, Njabulo Ngcobo, Mosa Lebusa, Sibusiso Mabiliso, Innocent Maela, Njabulo Blom, Ethan Brooks, Yusuf Maart, Siyethemba Sithebe
Midfielder – Thabiso Kutumela, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Gift Links, Evidence Makgopa, Victor Letsoala
Strikers – Percy Tau, Luther Singh
– CAJ News