The Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday will be nothing less than a war as both sides are leaving no stone unturned to outdo each other.
It is the fourth time Bafana Bafana will be playing in Nigeria and they have yet to record a win over the Super Eagles in any competitive encounter. Their only victory over Nigeria was in a friendly in Johannesburg 10 years ago.
Wednesday, however, will provide a platform on which both sides will be more desperate for a win. While the South Africans will be hoping to record their first win over Nigeria and erase their poor record against the African champions, the Eagles will be out for the kill as they seek an outright win to ensure their qualification for the 2015 AFCON.
South Africa top Group A with 11, while Nigeria are second with seven points, same as Congo. Both Nigeria and Congo are separated on goal difference, and that could change should Congo beat Sudan, who are already out of the race, and Nigeria fail to win.
South Africa, who are also looking to maintain an unbeaten run in the qualifiers, are aware of Nigeria’s dicey position. Bafana Bafana coach Shake Mashaba is sure his side will win but fears poor officiating might come to play.
“The only thing with these games is to hope that we get the best match officials, that is all. If we get the best then we are confident of results coming our way,” Mashaba had told South African press before leading his team to Nigeria on Monday.
Nigeria are in trouble and they need this win. The game is also about more than just the three points because of the history between the two rival countries. Nigerians never want to lose to South Africans and that alone will make this a humdinger of a match.
“We also have an assignment to break this hoodoo that we are going to lose when we play Nigeria. People always ask us if we are going to win against Nigeria, but we want to have a positive approach.”
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi would rather seek divine intervention in the matter as he asked his Nigerians to pray for the team in the encounter.
“As regards the last qualifying match against South Africa, Nigerians should pray for us,” Keshi said.
“They should pray for the players and they should be patient, and they should come out en masse to support their team to win the match.
“They should pray for the boys to be in good health and that they should respond well in the match.”