Revenge would be in the minds of Nigeria as the Super Eagles face the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier at the FBN Stadium in Johannesburg.
The last time both teams met in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria, in June, South Africa defeated Nigeria 2-0, leaving the Super Eagles in a tightrope of qualifying for the bi-annual tournament in Cameroon since it was initially the group winners that will qualify automatically.
However, with two teams qualifying for the competition, the three-time Africa champions bounced back to winning ways after returning from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, beating Seychelles 3-0 and Libya twice 4-0 and 3-2 respectively, to top the group with nine points.
On the other hand, South Africa sits second on the table with eight points and can qualify from the group if the Bafana Bafana plays a draw against Nigeria. But a loss may still put the qualification on hold should Libya pull a surprise victory in her next two matches.
History favours the Eagles ahead of the crucial clash as the team have won seven of the earlier encounters, drew 4 and lost 2 to the Bafana Bafana, out of their last 13 matches on record.
Nigeria will be missing the services of Odion Ighalo and Francis Uzoho due to injuries, while Wilfred Ndidi will also be missing in the action due to accumulated cards.
South Africa will be without several key players also especially in the midfield – with Dean Furman, Keagan Dolly, Kamohlo Mokotjo, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Bongani Zungu all out.
Super Eagles technical adviser, Gernot Rohr
“Our mission in Johannesburg is simple: qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. We are not thinking of anything else. We want the ticket in our pocket before the final match day.”
Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa
“Our determination is to win and pick our ticket to the AFCON ahead of the final match day next year. South Africa came to Nigeria to beat us and we are here to return the compliment.
“We will not be playing for a draw. We won in Seychelles and against Libya in Tunisia and we are here to win as well,” Musa said.
South Africa coach, Stuart Baxter
“Though we respect Nigeria, we do not fear them. By the time we run out onto the FNB Stadium, we would be confident‚ we would not be complacent.
“They are undefeated since we beat them the last time and they will certainly want to wreak their revenge.
“So‚ we will be ready and I still believe that we have a very good chance of getting the result that we need.”
South Africa international, Hlompho Kekana
“Obviously when you play the Nigerians or any West African teams you have to be ready mentally because they will bully you around. It’s for us to really fight and try to protect our home game – we are going to try by all means to win the match.”
Gambian referee, Bakary Papa Gassama, will be in charge of the matchday 5 AFCON qualifier tie between South Africa and Nigeria.
The 39-year-old is regarded as one of the best referees on the continent and was among the few Africans selected for the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
This will not be the first time Gassama will be at the centre in Nigeria’s games as he officiated Nigeria’s 3-1 victory over Algeria in Uyo prior to the World Cup.