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AFCON 2019: Nigeria vs South Africa preview

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria continue their quest to be crowned African champions for the fourth time against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the quarterfinals of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The teams clash at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday at 8:00 pm.

Nigeria has come out top in their last two AFCON meetings against South Africa. The Super Eagles won 2-0 and 4-0 at the 2000 and 2004 African Cup of Nations respectively.

However, South Africa will hope to consolidate on their last two meetings with Nigeria which ended in a 2-0 win and a draw.

Both teams battled past stiff opposition in the second round of the tournament, defeating Cameroon and Egypt, who were finalists in the last AFCON and odds-on favourites to win Africa’s most decorated football tournament.

Reigning African champions Cameroon lost 3-2 to Nigeria in a pulsating five-goal thriller, while South Africa dumped hosted nation Egypt out of the competition after a gutsy 1-0 win in front of about 75,000 fans.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have not been totally impressive in the tournament. Although they won two of their group stage matches against Burundi and Guinea by a goal each and lost their final group game to Madagascar by 2-0.

Nigeria’s defence has continued to look shaky, committing errors that led to goals against Madagascar and Cameroon.

Similarly, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana struggled through the group stage. The win against Egypt has been the brightest spot in their campaign. The Stuart Baxter-led side qualified out of Group D as best losers with a win over Namibia after losing two group matches against Ivory Coast and Morrocco by a lone goal each.

Nigeria’s defender Kenneth Omeruo (2nd-L) celebrates his goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Nigeria and Guinea at the Alexandria Stadium on June 26 , 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

However, both Rohr and Baxter know that their teams have to do better if they will advance to the semi-final.

“We are here to win. It is not going to be an easy match, but surely if you have to win the Africa Cup, you will not expect to be faced with easy matches at this stage,” Rohr said.

“We know ourselves from the qualifying campaign and it will be no holds–barred on Wednesday. It is not a matter of revenge. it is about reaching the semi-finals.”

South Africa coach Baxter envisages a tough game against ‘powerhouse’ Nigeria.

“The Nigerian team is still one of the powerhouses in the continent,” Baxter said.

“We should be under no illusion that Nigeria are one of the best teams on the continent. They are a stable team and this squad has been together for quite a while and it will be a massive but difficult game for us.”


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