Nigeria vs South Africa
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
Wednesday, 10-07-2019 @10pm
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals get underway on Wednesday with two juicy fixtures.
In the headline fixture, Nigeria will take on South Africa at the Cairo International stadium.
Three AFCON titles to their name, Nigeria are always one of favourites to walk away with the title and will surely go into the game knowing that the majority expect them to reach the semis.
In their last 11 games, Gernot Rohr’s side have lost only once, with the defeat coming against Madagascar in their last group game, one they knew they could afford to lose and consequently, rested several players.
The Super Eagles are coming off a hard-fought 3-2 victory over defending champions Cameroon and their confidence should be sky high. The round of 16 victory came with twists and turns as striker Odion Ighalo put them ahead, only for Stephane Bahoken and Clinton N’jie to turn the tables at half-time by both scoring within three minutes.
Ighalo equalised and set up Alex Iwobi for the winner, crystallising how Nigeria’s players have occasionally been unrecognizable to supporters familiar with their exploits in domestic competition.
The performance was not one to brag over but when you come up against the continent’s best, in most case you just have to get the job done and that is what Rohr’s side did as they eliminated the defending champions.
For South Africa, they stunned hosts-Egypt to reach the quarter-finals and will be eyeing another surprise that would see them reach the semis.
Bafana Bafana who scrapped through their group, losing twice and winning only once, will feel they now have the momentum after a magnificent performance against the Pharaohs.
However, their best players are yet to hit full gear and that will be a concern for Baxter who clearly know that contests like that on Wednesday are most often decided by individual brilliance.
What they are saying ahead of the game
Gernot Rohr, Nigeria manager
“We saw the game with Egypt against South Africa and we know South Africa well because they were in our group competing for the qualifiers.
“To beat Egypt, in these circumstances, up against a good team with one of the best players in Africa [Mohamed Salah], it will make them full of confidence.
“They [Bafana Bafana] deserved to win because they were the better team and now for me, if you beat the favourite number one in Egypt, you become the new favourites.
“We also had a good game against Cameroon; we also have confidence, so we should be expecting a match of high quality.”
Stuart Baxter, South Africa manager
“Nigeria are absolutely one of the best teams on continent and have been for a long time.
“We’ll be respecting Nigeria but not fearing them.
“We will have to produce a very good South Africa performance to beat them.”
Nigeria head into the game with concerns over Captain Mikel Obi who got injured in the loss to Madagascar. However, defender Shehu Abdullahi should be fit ti start the game on Wednesday.
For South Africa, they have no injury worries and Baxter is expected to name an unchanged starting XI for the second game running.
This will be the 12th meeting between Nigeria and South Africa since February 2000.
In the past 11 meetings, Nigeria have won six matches, South Africa have triumphed only once and the other four have ended in stalemates.
However, South Africa have not lost to the Super Eagles in any of their last five meetings, winning once and drawing the other four.
The two sides have met only twice at the AFCON finals in those 11 games with Nigeria winning both matches.
The other game of Wednesday
-Senegal vs Benin @7pm