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Super Eagles face Bafana Bafana in crunch tie

Super Eagles face Bafana Bafana in crunch tie
September 10
14:48 2014

South Africa and Nigeria will meet Wednesday (7pm Nigerian time) in Cape Town in their second group game towards qualification for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Morocco.

Bafana Bafana head into the tie fresh from a 3-0 win over Sudan in Omdurman but will now face a different challenge in the reigning and wounded AFCON champions who lost 3-2 at home to Congo.

South Africa have never beaten Nigeria in a competitive match, so its form book versus record book.

TheCable talks you through the game of the round in Wednesday’s qualifiers.

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Bafana Bafana are in buoyant mood as they host the Super Eagles and look for only their second win over their rivals since the first encounter between the two back in 1992.

Indeed, South Africa should be confident of ending a depressing record against Nigeria. In nine games between both sides, they have won only one and lost seven! The only drawn game in 1993 was quite insignificant after losing the first-leg 4-0 in Lagos.

The Super Eagles lost their first match to the Red Devils of Congo in an uninspiring display in Calabar over the weekend so South Africa will look to kick Nigeria’s strong-hold over them.

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And there is no better time!

Following an emphatic 3-0 win over Sudan, they will set out to make history against the Super Eagles at Cape Town Stadium.

Remember, they have never beaten the West Africans in the Cup of Nations or in the World Cup, making Wednesday’s match crucial for the hosts, who will look to overturn 22 years of Nigerian dominance.

So, is it a case of sheep going into slaughter slab for the Super Eagles?

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With current form, based on last weekend loss, one can safely say yes. But Nigeria know they must come out of the encounter with at least a point to stand any chance of resurrecting their quest for a place in Morocco.

South Africa will feel this is their chance to gain one over Nigeria, considering the Super Eagles have been a bogey team for them over the last decade.

But Nigeria will up their game against their ‘’wife’’.

Against Congo in Calabar, the team couldn’t plug the gaps between the defence and midfield, which made transition from defence to attacker rather slow.

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Keshi and his assistants should sort this out in Cape Town.

Are you saying they got their tactics wrong in Calabar? What then, should we expect from them in Cape Town?

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Nigeria always do well playing through the wings so Ahmed Musa will be key in this game.

The CSKA Moscow winger has started the season on a high – scoring two league goals already. Nigeria will need him to be at his best if they are to mount any serious challenge against the youthful Bafana Bafana side.

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Emmanuel Emenike will surely benefit from Musa’s crosses from the byline. So, if Musa has a good game on Wednesday night, then Nigeria will come out with something.

Back to your first question, yes, against Congo, Keshi lost the battle of wit to Claude Leroy.

Nigeria scored a fortuitous first goal but it was quite clear they had no definite game plan. The leadership tussle in the football house didn’t help preparation but Keshi had 45 minutes to remedy the game but he failed.

The team cannot afford such mistakes against South Africa. The midfield comprising John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Ramon Azeez did not click.

Keshi needs to sacrifice one of them or try and get the balance right.

Bafana Bafana game will be a different challenge for the Super Eagles. Mikel, in particular, must be ready to rub the green and get dirty throughout the match.

Against Sudan, South Africa ran their socks off, especially in the second half.

The young side kept running at the Sudanese who could not cope with the speed and strength of the side and their fall was inevitable. The same fate awaits Nigeria if they do not improve.

Fortunately, the Super Eagles do not need much motivation considering they would want to bounce back from the calamity in Calabar and prove they are worthy African champions.

Is it a win-or-bust for the African champions, then?

In a way, yes. If they pick a point, then they will be in a dire situation but not an irremediable one.

They can always claw back to at least second position in the group with the remaining four games. At worst, they will qualify for Morocco as the best third-placed team in the seven groups!

So, what’s worth knowing about the venue?

The Cape Town Stadium was built and used for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The first game to be hosted at the stadium was the Cape Town derby between Ajax Cape Town and Santos on January 23, 2010 as part of the official inauguration of the stadium.

The pitch hosted eight World Cup games, including the semi-final game between Uruguay and the Netherlands.

The decision of the South Africa FA to take the match to Cape Town away from Johannesburg means the stadium is a good hunting ground for the national team.

Not really. Of the three games they have played there, Bafana Bafana won a game, 1-0 against Central African Republic in 2013. They fell 1-0 to both the USA in 2010 and Norway in 2012.

Or was it the venue of South Africa’s only victory against Nigeria?

No. That game was played in Johannesburg during the Nelson Mandela Challenge. In fact, Nigeria won the last time both countries met there – the Nigerian U-20 team, though.

And it was the first time that the stadium was utilised at night, for the International Under-20 Soccer Challenge involving South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana.

The Flying Eagles defeated their SA counterpart 3-1 in April 10, 2010.

Wednesday’s game is also billed to start in the evening, so Nigeria could be second-time lucky!

Heard the stadium has hosted more musical concerts than games involving Bafana Bafana?

Most definitely! Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber, Rihana, Eminen and a host of others have had gigs there that have seen the crowd jump for joy than for goals!

U2 have even drew more people to the stadium (72,532) than what the national team could attract (52,000) in their first game there against USA.

Like we earlier pointed out, the South Africans have everything going for them ahead this game. They are the host and with last week’s win over Sudan, they have springs in their shoes! Aside footballing reasons, what could stop them?

No rain is forecast for this evening’s kick-off game in the Mother City but national team coach of South Africa, Ephraim Mashaba, is hoping Mother Nature will keep the rain away.

The coach feels South African players typically struggle to perform in wet conditions.

“There are things we don’t have control on, like the weather,” he says.

“People will tell you we are going to play under the heat, even the opposition will play in that heat too.

“Let’s make an example of the Sudan game… why did they change the game to evening? Because they also feel the heat. Our players are not good when it’s wet weather. We struggle playing under wet weather and I can challenge anyone on that. But all different weather I’m comfortable, that’s the only weather I’m worried about, when it’s wet.”

Nigeria should include the musician Majek Fashek in their entourage, then?

Yes, so he can send down the rain!

QUOTES

Nigeria will be under pressure coming off a loss at home. They are under tremendous pressure. No doubt about it. They have had some problems in their camp, administration problems. Also one or two of their players have not joined their camp so this all adds pressure to them. Our plan is to take the game to them from the first whistle. They must not recover. All I want is for my players to forget about the Sudan game and focus on our current job which is Nigeria.

South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’  Mashaba

As an individual, this is what you want. You want to be playing against the best; you want to be playing against the top clubs and countries in the world. What’s important is that we really go out there knowing that we can go and win this game; we have to believe that we can compete against these players. It’s going to be a tough game; we know they lost the other day but they’re still a top side; they’re still the African champions and they’ll be looking to get their first points on the board.

Bafana midfielder, Dean Furman

The South Africans are trying to build a team with young players, which is a good thing. We also have young players. We just have to get ready for South Africa. History will not win the game for us. We have to win the game for ourselves and concentrate, that’s all. It will be war.

Stephen Keshi

Bafana Bafana are a very good side, in fact one of the best teams in Africa and we respect them. But we are going to make sure we do better against them than we did against the Congolese, because that is the only way we can revive our hopes of playing at the Africa Cup of Nations next year. We know it’s not going to be easy beating the South Africans, but if Congo can beat us at home, why can’t we beat the South Africans away from home too? There were a lot of away wins in the first game, so we hope to get ours too on Wednesday.

Ogenyi Onazi

HEAD-TO-HEAD: NIGERIA v SOUTH AFRICA

October 10, 1992: Nigeria 4 South Africa 0

January 16, 1993: South Africa 0 Nigeria 0

February 10, 2000: Nigeria 2 South Africa 0

January 31, 2004: Nigeria 4 South Africa 0

November 17, 2004: South Africa 2 Nigeria 1

June 1, 2008: Nigeria 2 South Africa 0

September 6, 2008: South Africa 0 Nigeria 1

August 14, 2013: South Africa 0 Nigeria 2

January 19, 2014: South Africa 1 Nigeria 3

Table: SA v Nigeria

P          W         D          L          GF        GA

9          1          1          7          3          18

South Africa

Goalkeepers: Senzo Meyiwa, Dumisani Msibi. Darren Keet

Defenders: Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thabo Matlaba, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Ayabulela Magqwaka, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Anele Ngcongca, Rivaldo Coetzee, Sibusiso Khumalo.

Midfielders: Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali, Dean Furman, Ayanda Patosi, Keagan Dolly, Mandla Masango, Kamohelo Mokotjo.

Strikers: Tokelo Rantie, Bongani Ndulula, David Zulu, Bongi Ntuli.

Nigeria

Goalkeepers: Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United, Nigeria)

Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor FC, Turkey); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves, Nigeria); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars, Nigeria)

Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain); Joel Obi (Inter Milan, Italy); Nosa Igiebor (Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel); Omatsone Aluko (Hull City, England)

Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC, Turkey); Uche Nwofor (unattached); Nnamdi Oduamadi (FC Crotone, Italy); Gbolahan Salami (Warri Wolves); Christian Osaguona (Enugu Rangers)

Round-up of other games

The Cape Town showdown is just one of the games of the 14-fixture Match Day 2 schedule.

Cameroon host Ivory Coast in Yaounde and Egypt are meeting Tunisia in Cairo.

New-look Indomitable Lions of Cameroon started their Group D campaign with a 2-0 away win over Congo DR.

They now host Côte d’Ivoire, who came from behind at home to edge Sierra Leone 2-1 through goals from Seydou Doumbia and Gervinho to give French coach Herve Renard a winning start.

Record seven-time African champions Egypt were lucky to lose only 2-0 in Senegal as Group G unfolded and Tunisia looked largely unimpressive when winning 2-1 at home to Botswana.

Egypt must not lose against Tunisia in Cairo if they want to avoid the humiliation of failing to qualify for a third consecutive tournament, having won the previous three.

Algeria, the most impressive African team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, host Mali, while Ghana are away to Togo in the other mouthwatering tie.

 

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