Posted by News Express | 10 June 2017 | 1,771 times
Nigeria and South Africa will resume their rivalry once against as the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations kicks-off this weekend across the continent.
The Super Eagles have been a bogey team of sorts for the Bafana-Bafana who have never beaten Nigeria at senior level in a competitive game.
A Tokelo Rantie brace, last time the two sides met in Uyo-the same venue for Saturday’s game, nearly gave South Africa the first win over Nigeria until Sone Aluko’s brace put paid to that dream.
The carpet will be laid again at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium as the Super Eagles, just like the South African counterparts, look to get back into Africa’s showpiece football event.
Nigeria has missed the last two editions (2015 in Equatorial Guinea and 2017 in Gabon), an aberration that Rohr and his staff will want to correct.
Pitted in Group E alongside South Africa, Libya and Seychelles, it looks like an easy run for the Eagles but previous failings will serve as warning bells not to take anything for granted.
Nigeria has no lost a game since Rohr took over and were 3-0 winners over Togo in a recent friendly in Paris while South Africa coach Stuart Baxter will make his bow against Nigeria in his second spell as coach of Bafana Bafana.
Baxter was in charge the only time South Africa beat Nigeria and will want to repeat that result in the international friendly in 2004.
He has named Thulani Hlatshwayo of Bidvest Wits as his captain and with the likes of Itumuleng Khune, Dean Furman and Sibusiso Vilakazi [below] also in the mix, they look to trouble Nigeria.
Hlatshwayo, who is also known as ‘Tyson’ because of his combative nature, has already stirred the Eagles nest by branding the Nigerians as ‘arrogant’, a move which makes the game on Saturday much dicier.
Nigeria has been hit by a spate of injuries to some regulars. Team captain John Mikel Obi will not play as he recovers from injury.
First choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme is also out injured and so is the reliable centre-back Leon Balogun.
Chelsea’s Victor Moses has been excused from the squad as he is scheduled for an operation in the summer. Noah Bazee, who was called up but yet to make his debut will also miss out on account of injury.
Despite their absence, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr feels he has enough from his group to cover for those missing.
South Africa have been sweating over the fitness of star defender Rivaldo Coetzee even though the midfielder made the trip to Nigeria. Kamohelo Mokotjo of Dutch side Twente Enschede is out injured and has been replaced by Lebogang Phiri of Brondby.
Hlompho Kekana is also another who succumbed to injury and his place has been taken by his team-mate at Mamelodi Sundowns Tiyani Mabunda
What they said
“It is a big game, and we are one for the big occasion.
“I have confidence in the group that we have now and the ambition oozing in the camp. We want to go to the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. Starting well on Saturday will be key to our aspiration.” — Ogenyi Onazi, Nigeria midfielder
“Nigeria are a proud and arrogant team but I still believe we have now overcome that psychological barrier of not having beaten them in a competitive match, yet we could have done so in the past two games. Thulani ‘Tyson’ Hlatshwayo, South Africa captain
“It is important to win the first game of course even though we'll play the game without some of our important players like our captain, John Obi Mikel who is injured. Gernot Rohr, Nigeria coach
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United) Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC IfeanyiUbah); Dele Alampasu (Cesarense FC, Portugal)
Defenders: William Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium); Uche Agbo (CF Granada, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)
Midfielders: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel); Mikel Agu (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal); Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa United FC)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium); Olanrewaju Kayode (FC Austria Wien, Austria); Victor Osimhen (Wolfsburg FC, Germany) Alex Iwobi (Arsenal, England)
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs), Abbubaker Mobara (Orlando Pirates), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sifiso Hlanti (Bidvest Wits)
Midfielders: Tiyani Mabunda (Mamelodi Sundowns), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Andile Jali (KV Oostende FC, Belgium), Lebogang Phiri (Brondby, Denmark) Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Zungu (Vitoria Guimares, Portugal), Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City FC)
Attackers: Sibusiso Vilakazi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebohang Manyama (Cape Town City FC), Tokelo Rantie (Genclerbirligi FC, Turkey), Thamsanqa Gabuza (Orlando Pirates), Kermit Erasmus (Lens, France)
•Extracted from a SuperSport report.
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