*As Tico Tico says S/Africans are overrated
BY Jacob Ajom
For South African football fans, today’s group A encounter between the Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles of Nigeria is the ‘final before the final’ at the CAF African Nations Championship in Cape Town.
The Eagles need a win to cement their place in the tournament after a troubled start to their campaign. While the South Africans need a draw, as they failed to wrap it up against Mali, the same team that made the Eagles to walk on a tight rope.
The pressure is on South Africa to win. This is because they have found Nigeria to be a stumbling block to their campaign in continental football.
South Africa have only beaten Nigeria once in eight matches. The last meeting between the two teams was at the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa, which the Eagles won 2-0 in Durban. This is giving the Bafana Bafana goose pimples and they see tonight’s match as a first step to putting a stop to Nigeria’s dominance.
Ahead of today’s game both sides have injury worries, but according to Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi the pressure is more on South Africa who will be without their captain and first-choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
Keshi said in a post-match conference after guiding his men to a 4-2 over Mozambique that: “South Africa have massive advantage in terms of experience, the fact that their league only stopped in December and their players are still in condition. They have what it takes. We’ll need a high level of concentration to overcome South Africa.”
On his path South African coach Gordon Igesund declared that his wards have nothing but victory on their minds and there was no fear of the Super Eagles even as they are under pressure.
“My philosophy has always been play to win. When you start thinking about trying to play for a draw, you start doing the wrong things.
“We know that Nigeria are going into this game with only one thing on their mind, and that’s to win the game. We will be offensive against them, that’s the plan, we want to go forward.
“I want to attack them down the sides, have overlapping fullbacks and let’s ask the questions, we need to ask a lot of questions defensively and we’ll try and do that,” said Igesund
Meanwhile, former Mozambican striker Manuel José Luís Bucuane, aka Tico Tico, is confident that the Eagles will beat the South African side even as he claimed Bafana Bafana are overvalued and will face a tough test when they square up against Stephen Keshi’s men.
“South Africa is not doing so well at the Chan and are struggling as well. Yes, they beat Mozambique 3-1 but we still don’t know how they managed to achieve that against us,” he told reporters in Cape Town.
South Africa couldn’t cope with Mali and against Nigeria it’s going to be a really difficult game for them. They are under pressure. They are playing at home and everybody expects them to qualify (for the quarter finals).
They didn’t want to go into a third game without having sealed their place in the next round yet so the game against Nigeria is a decisive match,” he concluded.