Nigeria versus South Africa should be an easy ride

Nigeria’s Super Eagles will be up in arms against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the AFCON semifinals on Wednesday and it is a game the West Africans should win, based on existing head-to-head between them.

Nigeria truly has an advantage

Since the international ban on South Africa was lifted, Nigeria has gotten the better of them more often than not.

The first meeting of both sides was a 4-0 bashing by Nigeria in a World Cup Qualifier in Lagos in 1992, and the second meeting was 0-0 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

In the fourteen times Nigeria has played South Africa, the Eagles have won 7, lost 2, and five of those encounters ended in draws. Nigeria has also scored 22 goals against South Africa and conceded 9. South Africa have only beaten Nigeria once in a competitive fixture, a 2-0 loss in an AFCON Qualifier played in Uyo in 2017.

This total dominance should count for something.

It is the AFCON and Nigeria always wins against them

At the AFCON proper, Nigeria has met South Africa three times, won all three, scored 8 goals and conceded 1. Total dominance once again. In the very first AFCON meeting between both sides, Nigeria won 2-0 in the 2000 semifinal. A masterstroke of a tweak in personnel by Bonfrere Jo saw Tijani Babangida getting a brace in the 1st and 34th minutes. The game was over by the end of the first half.

Both teams met again at the group stage in 2004 and Joseph Yobo, Austin Okocha, and Osaze Odemwingie (brace) saw Nigeria to a 4-0 win.

In 2019, Samuel Chukwueze and William Troost Ekong scored in a 2-1 quarter-final win over the South Africans.

This South African team will dance around, nothing will happen

The Bafana Bafana may pass the ball better than the Eagles in Wednesday’s game, but they have always passed the ball better than us.

Like my friend, Toyin Ibitoye will say to me, “Dem go knock us ball o. Dem go knock us, but we go still win.”

It may not be different on Wednesday. The South Africans know how to pass the ball, but what use is continuous foreplay in romance, without the penetration of actual sex. That is how their game will be described on Wednesday night. They had so much possession and passed the ball well, but failed to get a sniff at goal.

The Super Eagles are the real deal

Anyone who has actively watched the AFCON this year will agree that the Super Eagles are the real deal.

The Eagles have been tough to crack, with an almost impregnable defense, a midfield Trojan in Frank Onyeka a runner in Victor Osimhen, and a goalkeeper in Stanley Nwabali who inspires confidence.

The Super Eagles have been a very disciplined group and will be a big ask for the South Africans to win.

The South Africans trying to force a non-existent rivalry

There is no rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa. The South Africans are just trying to force one.

A person that deals with you every time you play cannot be a rival, but a conqueror. The rivalries are Nigeria versus Cameroon and Nigeria versus Ghana. The South Africans have behaved like that disrespectful kid brother who wants to enter his elder brother’s room, take his watch, his shoes, and clothes for parties, just to feel on the same level with his brother.

Nigeria should stop obliging the South Africans but should treat them as just what they are, with a good hiding in the semifinal.

Peseiro, know this and know peace

Despite all the praises for Jose Peseiro in this AFCON, there is still something he should know.

Yes, he and Nigeria have done well in terms of tactics, team discipline, shape, results, and qualifying for the semifinals, but he has not achieved anything yet. His AFCON starts on Wednesday against the South Africans.

Father Tiko (Twice), Otto Gloria, Adeboye Onigbinde, Manfried Hoener, Clemens Westerhof (three times), Bonfrere Jo, Shaibu Amodu (twice), Christian Chukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Stephen Keshi, and Gernot Rohr all have one thing in common.

They all took Nigeria to the AFCON semi-final between 1976 and 2019. Wednesday’s game will be Nigeria’s 16th AFCON semi-final, so Jose Peseiro has not done anything new. The South Africans, Congolese, and maybe, Ivoriens will be excited to play in the semi-final, not Nigeria. But you know one thing?

Otto Gloria, Adegboye Onigbinde, Manfried Hoener, Clemens Westerhof (Twice), Bonfrere Jo, and Stephen Keshi are the only men who have taken Nigeria to the AFCON final.

Jose Peseiro should be thinking about playing in the AFCON final and winning the Cup, not a game of nothingness against a South African side that is up-played as a rivalry it is not.

This game should be a totally dominant, should be… But in football, stranger things have happened. If, after all these, the South Africans eventually win, which is highly improbable, then Jose Peseiro and his players will have themselves to blame.

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