SWITZERLAND, JULY 10: History will be on the sides of the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday as they face the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the Quarterfinal clash at the ongoing African Cup of Nations(AFCON) in Egypt.
South Africa pulled off a major upset against Egypt, but can they do the same against the Super Eagles?
The two teams are familiar opponents and the history of the clashes between them is summed up in this statement by a Nigerian football official years ago:
“Either the Bafana Bafana or the Bayana Bayana, they will always be Banana Banana for Nigeria.”
According to Goal.com, the match is a reunion for two continental rivals, who have tangled regularly in recent years, and enjoyed differing fortunes. Nigeria have impressed over the last decade, winning one Nations Cup title and reaching three World Cups, while Bafana’s best days are almost two decades in the past.
The pair have met on 14 official occasions in the past, with Bafana winning two and Nigeria winning seven.
It’s enough to make Bafana the underdogs, although Nigeria won’t underestimate their rivals after the pair clashed in qualifying.
Bafana won the away leg during the World Cup qualifiers in Uyo 2-0, surprising the Super Eagles, before playing out to a 1-1 stalemate in Johannesburg.
The current South African coach, Stuart Baxter could potentially see his unbeaten record against Nigeria during his second stint with Bafana as a positive omen, even if history is not on Bafana’s side…particularly at the AFCON.
There have been two previous clashes, with neither going the way of Bafana; the last meeting at the tournament was back in 2004, and it was certainly not a day to remember for the 1996 Afcon champions as they were hammered 4-0.
Aside from that occasion, Bafana also locked horns with the Super Eagles four years prior, at the 2000 AFCON, where the Eagles walked away with a 2-0 win.
However, encouragingly for South Africa, they’re undefeated against Nigeria since 2013-their last five games in all competitions.
The SOuth Africans, buoyed by their recent shock result against hosts Egypt after blowing hot and cold earlier in the competition, will be confident heading into the fixture and will be quietly optimistic that they can overcome Nigeria.
On the other hand, the Super Eagles are improving after a slow start in Egypt, and impressed when they came from 2-1 down against Cameroon to win the match 3-2 in their Round of 16 tie.
The Super Eagles will need to draw more than a favourable history to beat the Bafana Bafana.