It is D-Day as Super Eagles of Nigeria take on familiar foes, South Africa, in an AFCON2019 quarter-final clash later on Wednesday. This is a Bafana Bafana side that shocked the hosts Egypt – Mo Sala et al in the last round lest anyone forgets.
We are ready! #NGARSA #SoarSuperEagles #Team9jaStrong 📸@CAF_Online pic.twitter.com/VE6941A32r
— 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) July 9, 2019
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Having gone past fierce rivals, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, in an entertaining round of 16 match, the Super Eagles face their next hurdle in a difficult Bafana Bafana team that shocked tournament hosts, Egypt, in front of their massive home fans in their round of 16 game for a place in the semifinals.
While both sides have hardly needed to be really impressive to be where they are at the moment (bar their last games), here are three reasons why our dear Super Eagles and Nigerians must be very wary of the South Africans in tonight’s battle in Cairo.
SA’s Unbeaten Run
When South Africa and Nigeria take to the Cairo pitch later tonight, it will be for the 14th time in their history.
Nigeria comfortably leads their head to head with six wins from the previous 13 meetings, compared to two for South Africa while five have ended in a stalemate.
However, the last time Nigeria tasted any form of victory over South Africa was in the CHAN group stage game back on August 19, 2004, in Cape Town.
In fact, while that was by the Super Eagles home-based players, the main Eagles last defeated tonight’s opponents in a friendly held on August 14, 2013 – Nigeria won that encounter 2-0.
Since then, the Super Eagles have lost once and drawn four of five matches they have faced the Bafana Bafana.
The Stuart Baxter Factor
It does really seem like in the Englishman, South Africa has found the key to getting something tangible out of Nigeria on the football pitch.
Not only is Baxter unbeaten against the Super Eagles and Nigeria in the three matches he has faced us, winning two and drawing one, he is also the first ever Bafana Bafana boss to ever defeat Nigeria.
He led South Africa to their first ever win against Nigeria back in November 2014 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge cup before going a step further nine years later when he led them to their first ever competitive win against Nigeria.
The latter came in that 0-2 loss at the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo two years ago, during the qualifiers leading to the AFCON2019.
Therefore, today’s quarterfinal match may be at a tournament where Nigeria has never lost to South Africa before, but in Baxter, they have the plug, a man who is the only SA manager to have defeated the Super Eagles and could record another first against the Super Eagles.
Daniel Akpeyi could Inspire SA
It’s no joke really! Akpeyi joined South African league giants, Kaizer Chiefs, in January after many seasons at fellow Absa Premier League side, Chippa United, where he made his name and reputation – for blunders.
The goalkeeper has since continued with his blunders at the Soweto-based club, Chiefs, and of course, this could prove decisive later tonight.
Nigerians are never at ease when he is asked to man the posts, even at the AFCON2019, where we have had our hearts in our mouths.
Their goalkeeper is Akpeyi, whole Akpeyi but they have the audacity to make noice on this Twitter streets. #NGARSA pic.twitter.com/NYRZucedhe
— Ndivhuworld_ 🌎🇿🇦 (@Pro_Static_SA) July 9, 2019
So, with Bafana Bafana’s largely Absa PL dominated team knowing him too well, seeing Akpeyi in between the sticks could be a massive boost to them as we may likely see a shoot at sight plan, knowing what the Nigerian goalkeeper is capable of producing at any moment.
@robertmarawa @LadyD_IronLady @BafanaBafana @percymuzitau22
I just want to remind everyone that the Nigerian goalkeeper is Daniel Akpeyi. Lorch and Tau you know what to do!
Me: Akpeyi, are you keeping a clean sheet against SA?
Akpeyi: Eh I can't say, I won't allow more than 2 pic.twitter.com/NOdqntOdlA
— Lazy_Kid_Prod (@lanela992) July 9, 2019
There you have it, three reasons why you and other Super Eagles fans must tread with caution ahead of the game tonight.
Both coaches expect it to be a difficult game, but Super Eagles still have the upper hand with six wins in 13 of their previous meetings.
What kind of game are you expecting tonight? Do leave a comment in the comment section or on our Facebook page.
Nigeria needs to match the pace, energy and organization that these South African stars come with to stand a chance against them. I think the game will end in a 1-1 draw and hopefully, Nigeria will be able to qualify for Semi final after penalties.