Bafana Bafana of South Africa will host the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a crucial Group E of the AFCON 2019 qualifier at Soccer City, South Africa as the two teams are set to renew their rivalry this coming weekend.
With 2 rounds of qualifiers to go Nigeria now top the group with a record of 3 wins and 1 defeat. Their 9 points tally is 1 more than Bafana, who have won 2 and drawn 2 of their qualifiers and third placed Libya, who have 4 points, are not out of it yet. Seychelles with 1 point is bottom of this quartet.
Should Libya win their clash away to Seychelles on Saturday, the pressure will be on Bafana, who will still have to travel to meet Libya in the final round of matches.
Bafana dropped what could turn out to be very valuable points with a 0-0 draw away to Seychelles a month ago. Just a few days earlier, they had thrashed the same opponent 6-0 at Soccer City with 3 goals in each half but despite enjoying the vast majority of possession, they couldn’t find a way through on a difficult playing surface.
That cost Bafana top spot in the group and they have relinquished the advantage they had seized with a 2-0 win in Nigeria in their opening qualifier, which came way back in June 2017. They also drew 0-0 at home to Libya and a top 2 finish which at one stage had looked like a formality, is now potentially in some doubt.
The 2013 African champions have won their last three competitive matches, while Bafana, though they are still unbeaten, have won two and drawn two of their four matches.
Nigeria need to win at least one of their remaining two matches to book their place in next year’s AFCON finals.
The Super Eagles have recovered from losing their opening qualifier to Bafana to reel off three straight wins. They come into this game after back to back wins against Libya whom they beat 4-0 in a home fixture before having to work much harder for a 3-2 victory in neutral territory. They came through an earlier visit to Seychelles with a 3-0 win and given they finish the campaign at home to the Seychelles, they really ought to qualify even if they lose here.
There is no Obi Mikel or Victor Moses in the squad, Wilfred Ndidi is suspended, striker Odion Ighalo, who has scored 6 goals in his last three appearances for the Super Eagles is out injured and goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho is another player on the injured list. If Libya wins in Seychelles and Bafana lose here it will set up a nervy finish in the final round of qualifiers. Defeat for Libya would mean both these teams go through but Bafana need to find the sort of performance they pulled out in the first round of qualifiers in this group.
Nigeria would take a point in my opinion as it would seal qualification and if they want top spot, they would only need to win at home to Seychelles in the final round of qualifying.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana Coach, Stuart Baxter insists that Nigeria are determined to avenge their defeat of last year against South Africa when the two sides meet at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
“We do have Nigeria first‚ in the small matter of an African Nations Cup qualifier‚” Baxter said as quoted by TimesLIVE website.
“Everybody know the list of injuries that we have had.
“Everybody know what I said in the first press conference (a week ago) that despite that (the injuries), I want to speak about the players that we do have because even though we respect Nigeria, we do not fear them.
“I think we have still enough talent‚ enough desire and if we can structure a game plan in the next three or four days‚ I think by the time we run out onto the FNB Stadium we would be confident‚ we would not be complacent‚ because Nigeria have just come from a (2018) World Cup (in Russia).
“They are undefeated since we beat them the last time (in the first qualifier in June last year) and they will certainly want to wreak their revenge.
“So‚ we will be ready, and I still believe that we have a very good chance of getting the result that we need”.
S/Africa: GK- Darren Keet, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Sifiso Hlanti, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Keagan Dolly, Percy Tau, Bradley Grobler,
Nigeria: GK – Okechikwu Ezenwa, Chris Ekong, Leon Balogun, Chidozie Awaziem, Brian Idowum, John Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo, Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru
S/Sudan v Burundi
Egypt v Tunisia
Morocco v Cameroon
Comoros v Malawi
Seychelles v Libya
Uganda v C/Verde
Namibia v G/Bissau
E/Guinea v Senegal
Gabon v Mali
Gambia v Benin
Madagascar v Sudan
Kenya v S/Leone
Ethiopia v Ghana
Swatini v Niger
Rwanda v C.A.R.
Mozambique v Zambia
Lesotho v Tanzania
Congo v DR Congo
Angola v B/Faso
Togo v Algeria
Liberia v Zimbabwe
Mauritania v Botswana
Guinea v C/d’Ivoire