South Africa vs Nigeria Preview – The African Cup of Nations qualifiers has reached its defining stages, as nations battle to make the most of the remaining two round of matches. Group E is somewhat more interesting, as any one of Nigeria or South Africa could still manage to walk away with the sole ticket as group winners.
Although the Super Eagles of Nigeria currently sit atop the log, on 10 points, the unbeaten Bafana Bafana have managed to gather 8 points, haven won two and drawn as many in four games. Libya takes up the third position with four points, and Seychelles sits at the bottom of the group, only managing the solitary point at home to Staurt Baxter’s men.
Qualification for the tournament proper is for the group winners, and Group E ticket, as things stands now, is left for the Super Eagles to lose.
They may have started the campaign in a lackluster manner, losing 2-0 at home to the compact yellow and green boys from South Africa, but they quickly got back on track, with resounding victories over Seychelles, and Libya- beating the north Africans home and away. They had managed to score seven goals over the two legs versus Libya, with Chanchung Yatai striker and captain, Odion Jude Ighalo, getting five of those goals. The china based striker had come under a lot of criticism, having not found the net at the world cup, but against Libya, he was all sorts of trouble. He had first scored a hatrick- his first in the colours of the national team- and then quickly followed it with a brace in Libya.
Although there is still work to be done, with matches against South Africa and Seychelles still to come, Gernot Rohr’s men appear in prime position to clinch the ticket as group winners.
South Africa vs Nigeria Preview
However, Itumeleng Khune and his teammates would not roll over and play dead, as they too have an outsider’s chance to finish the qualifying series as group winners. If they win their next two matches, added to the previous eight points they’ve accrued, they would displace the West Africans at the top of the table.
Up first is a visit from the super eagles, and if they are able to fend off the attacking prowess of their visitors from West Africa, and then manage to nick in the odd goal, then they would have their destiny in their hands when they travel to take on final group E opponents, Libya.
And what better time to play the Super Eagles than now?
The super eagles team is currently without some of her first team regulars, as they have picked up untimely injuries and have been ruled out of this encounter. Gernot Rohr would be made to settle for either one of Daniel Akpeyi or Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the South Africa game, as reports in Spain have suggested that first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, has picked up an injury and would miss the game. Also, Taijan Teda and Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel, would once again miss another match in the AFCON qualification, as he is yet to return to full fitness. More worrying however, is the fact that the Nigerians would not be able to field in-form striker, and thier highest goal scorer in the qualification series, Odion Jude Ighalo, as he picked up an injury in a Chinese league game, over the weekend.
Al Nassr forward, Ahmed Musa, would carry on with captain duty in the absence of John Obi Mikel. He would be joined in the squad by first team regulars, in the attacking department, such as in form Arsenal prodigy, Alex Iwobi, Leicester Ctiy’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Moses Simon, Samuel Kalu and Isaac Success. While Henry Onyekuru was called up to replace Ighalo, there would be a maiden call up for Villareal forward, and former U17 world cup winner, Samuel Chukweze. Victor Osimhen also rejoins the fold, after a lengthy time out.
In the middle of the park, the German tactician has surprisingly called up just three recognized midfielders in John Ogu, Mikel Agu, and Oghenekaro Etebo. Meanwhile, the defenceline is a full house with Leon Balogun, Troost Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Jamilu Collins and Ola Aina, all keeping their places. Home based defender, Adeleye Anikaye, also gets his maiden call up.
Staurt Baxter’s bafana bafana would be buoyed by the fact that their defence have not conceded a single goal in the four matches that they have played so far, with their highlight coming in the 2-0 away with in Uyo, Nigeria.
The south African squad to face Nigeria in the FNB stadium on Saturday, November 17 include:
Itumeleng Khune , Ronwen Williams, Darren Keet
Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Motjeka Madisha, Siyanda Xulu, Innocent Maela, Thulani Hilatshwayo, S’Fiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanzi, Thamsanqa Mkhize
Vincent Pule, Thembinkosi Lorch, Fortune Markaringe, Lebohang Maboe, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Teboho Mokoena, Thulani Serero
Lebo Mothiba, Percy Tau, Dino Ndlovu, Themba Zwane