It will be the thirteenth meeting between the sides. The Super Eagles had always managed to get a result against their South Africa opponents except in a friendly match in 2004 when they lost 2 – 1 in Johannesburg.
Tomorrow’s match also hold an element of grudge and revenge!
In November 2014, the Super Eagles needed to beat South Africa to ensure qualification for the CAN 2015 in Equatorial Guinea. The South Africans however had other ideas as they played like ‘world champions’ and dominated their host.
Two sublime goals from Tokelo Raintie of the Bafana Bafana late in the first half and early in the second silenced the full capacity stadium in Uyo. The sudden change in the score line caused the Super Eagles to panic as their game plan collapsed.
As the Super Eagles went all out to get a least a goal back to calm the frayed nerves of their teeming fans, Ephraim Mashaba grafted hard from the sidelines asking his boys to score more goals. It was a sight to behold as the South Africans ran ring around the Super Eagles.
Eventually, Sone Aluko’s goals in the 68th and 92nd minutes saved the Eagles the ignominy of their first defeat in a competitive match to Bafana Bafana.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to send them to Equatorial Guinea to defend the title they won two years earlier in South Africa.
Things have changed significantly since then. There is a brand new Super Eagles playing in an exciting manner that had almost been forgotten.
Gernot Rohr is now in charge with new and hungry players. Maximum points from two games in FIFA World Cup qualifiers enhances belief. Hope is alive again that Super Eagles can soar not only on the continent but in the world.
This state of reality must be reinforced tomorrow against Bafana Bafana!
Coach Stuart Baxter will aim to frustrate the setup of Rohr and cancel the Eagles attacking threat. According to him, he needs his team to play a high tempo and energetic game against the Super Eagles. Rohr must counter that.
Under Rohr, Nigeria has deployed two formations: 4 – 3 – 3 and 4 – 2 – 3 -1. In the absence of Victor Moses, the German is likely to go for the latter.
Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi must play both on and off each other to put the South Africans under pressure. The quickness of the Eagles attacks will determine the outcome of the match.
Playing at home with everyone fit and rearing to go; Super Eagles is tipped to beat South Africa by two goal to nil.
New boy Henry Onyekuru has a big platform to show what he is all about. Will he take his chance or choke?