Bafana Bafana will renew their rivalry with the Super Eagles of Nigeria as they bid to reach the 2026 World Cup finals in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
South Africa were drawn in Group C alongside Nigeria, Benin, Rwanda and Southern African rivals Zimbabwe and Lesotho at the draw, which took place in the Ivory Coast on Thursday.
The winners of each of the nine groups will qualify for an expanded World Cup finals, with 48 teams set to compete in the tournament in 2026.
As well as the nine automatic places for the group winners, the four best runners up will go into a play-off system where one more African nation could qualify for the finals.
The easiest route, however, is clearly to win your group, and Bafana have got themselves a tough draw in Nigeria, who will no doubt be determined to make up for just missing out to Ghana in qualification for the 2022 Fifa World Cup finals in Qatar.
Bafana Bafana have only ever beaten Nigeria once in a competitive match, Stuart Baxter’s side winning 2-0 in Nigeria en route to qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Nigeria got their revenge at the 2019 Afcon finals, beating Baxter’s South Africa 2-1 in the quarterfinals in Cairo.
Bafana and Nigeria have met four times before in World Cup qualifying. Way back in 1992, Nigeria beat South African 4-0 en route to making it to the 1994 Fifa World Cup in the USA, with the other game in January 1993 at FNB Stadium ending in a goalless draw.
Nigeria also beat South Africa twice on the way to qualifying for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, though Bafana Bafana automatically qualified for that tournament as hosts.
The current Super Eagles side contains its regular array of star names from all over Europe’s top leagues, including Napoli striker Victor Osimhen and Leicester City attacker Kelechi Iheanacho.
Bafana have played Zimbabwe and Lesotho on many occasions but have only once faced Benin, beating them 2-0 in their opening match of the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Tunisia.
And Bafana have never played the other member of Group C, Rwanda, in either a friendly or competitive match.
The 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers start in November.
2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying draw:
Group A – Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti
Group B – Senegal, Congo DR, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan
Group C – Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho
Group D – Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini, Mauritius
Group E – Morocco, Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Niger, Eritrea
Group F – Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, The Gambia, Burundi, Seychelles
Group G – Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana, Somalia
Group H – Tunisia, Equitorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia, Sao Tome e Principe
Group I – Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chad