What Bafana Bafana’s return after 14 years means to the people of Free State

What Bafana Bafana’s return after 14 years means to the people of Free State

Bafana Bafana returns to the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein tonight for the first time in 14 years, and Free State Acting MEC of Sport, Arts, and Culture Makalo Mohale says they are expecting a World Cup mood inside the match venue.

The last time Bafana played in this city was during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in the last game against France.

As they host the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe at 18:00, Mohale says this is a game that will benefit everyone in the city and also in the province.

"Exactly 14 years on Tuesday, the 11th of June that was the same date in 2010 when they were last in Bloemfontein. So, the province of the Free State has taken this opportunity and welcomed it and really made a lot of effort to ensure that everything is up to scratch to ensure that the preparations are of the highest standard in ensuring that we welcome our visitors both Bafana as well as their opponents, Zimbabwe.,” Mohale said.

“So, I must indicate that this is quite important because normally with matches like this, you don't only have economic spin-offs for those that are closer to the stadium but generally to the surrounding areas. You'd remember that at the peak of the World Cup tournament when Bafana Bafana were here, we had so many opportunities, even those, the hawkers, the big businesses. So, everyone made something out of that particular tournament."

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Despite the freezing weather conditions in Bloemfontein, with temperatures expected to be a chilly 11 degrees Celsius at kick-off, the local fans are showing their unwavering dedication.

Thousands are expected to brave the icy conditions and fill the stadium. As of last night, over 25,000 tickets from the 40,000 made available had been sold, a testament to the fans' enthusiasm.

Mohale is confident that the 'sold-out' signs will be up for this game, further highlighting the local support.

"Yes, indeed we started slow but we are quite happy and at a pace in which the sales have been going. I think earlier on we were above the 50% capacity of the stadium. The earlier you get your tickets the better so that you are not disappointed, so that you come and take your seat on time and enjoy the fantastic and exciting performance that Bafana will be giving together with Zimbabwe to the Free State soccer lovers."