Can Iqraam Rayners hit the target for Bafana in Algeria?

Iqraam Rayners will be out to replicate his club form at Stellenbosch FC with Bafana in Algeria tonight. Photo: BackpagePix

Iqraam Rayners will be out to replicate his club form at Stellenbosch FC with Bafana in Algeria tonight. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 26, 2024


Bafana Bafana are expected to target their first win since 1996 over north African giants Algeria when the two nations meet in the Fifa Series tonight.

The Desert Foxes will play host this time as the two sides meet at the Nelson Mandela Stadium tonight (11pm kick-off, SA time), looking to protect their fairly dominant hold over this fixture.

In the six times the two nations have collided at the Africa Cup of Nations or in friendly internationals, Bafana have only been able to topple their next opponents once, which was en route to their one and only Afcon title.

Memorable goals from Mark Fish and the late John “Shoes” Moshoeu saw Bafana book their spot in the semi-finals of the 1996 competition.

Bafana are coming off a fairly successful Afcon tournament in Ivory Coast after making the final four for the first time in 24 years, which might be the signal for a change in fortunes.

Although with a slightly changed squad of 23, Bafana head coach Hugo Broos’ team have never been better placed to bring the north African nation down.

Bafana have lost just one match in their last seven, which was their semi-final exit at the hands of Nigeria via a penalty shoot-out.

Of their previous seven matches, Bafana were able to draw with Tunisia and beat the continent’s number one-ranked nation, Morocco, in one of the surprises of the last Afcon tournament.

After a long, treacherous period of failed projects and wasted talents, Bafana seem to be on the up and up, and could be ready to upset their more illustrious north African opponents.

Coach Broos is set to make several changes to the starting XI that drew against Andorra last week, with the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns midfielders Themba Zwane and Teboho Mokoena back in the fold.

The experienced mentor also confirmed that Stellenbosch forward Iqraam Rayners would lead his attack in the absence of regulars like Evidence Makgopa and Lyle Foster.

Rayners, the 28-year-old forward, has scored eight goals and assisted with a further four in all competitions for Stellies this season, and will look to replicate that form in the colours of the national team.

— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) March 25, 2024

Algeria, on the other hand, have a new man at the helm, with head coach Vladimir Petkovic taking charge of the team for the second match since being appointed after the Afcon.

The two-time winners of the continental showpiece crashed out of the group stages in Ivory Coast, which saw the end of coach Djamal Belmadi’s tenure.

With Riyadh Mahrez missing, Petkovic will have to rely on the likes of replacement captain Yacine Brahimi and AS Roma’s Hassim Aouar to bring the quality and firepower needed to down Bafana in front of what is expected to be a packed audience.