It has been a very intriguing knockout phase of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 so far, with underdogs of the competition dispatching their more fancied opponents to the delight of neutrals around the world.
The likes of Egypt, Cameroon, and Ghana have been given their marching others, whereas the likes of Madagascar and Benin find themselves amongst Africa's elite of 8.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria take on South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium, and interestingly enough, both sides are no strangers to one another. The two nations had previously been paired in the qualifiers.
Nigeria's run to the quarterfinals has been somewhat inconsistent, as they lost to Madagascar in the group stage but ended up knocking out defending champions, Cameroon, in a thrilling round of 16 encounter. On the other hand, the Bafana Bafana shocked the continent by eliminating hosts and foremost favourites, Egypt, via the slimmest of margins.
Both sides will definitely march out of the tunnel full of confidence, and why shouldn't they? It's certainly anybody's game due to the unpredictable nature of the AFCON 2019 knockout phase, and the Super Eagles would be looking to avoid an upset against their confident opponents.
Nigeria's head coach, Gernot Rohr, has tipped the South Africans as favourites going into the clash, however, South Africa's Stuart Baxter isn't letting that get to his head. In an interview Baxter said,
“Nigeria are absolutely one of the best teams on continent and have been for a long time. One game doesn’t make us favourites. I don’t think he’s (Rohr) fooling anybody.”
“When we hit a balance between good organisation and getting on the ball and playing with pace and using our natural inherent technique we can give anybody a game."
“We’ll be respecting Nigeria but not fearing them. We will have to produce a very good South Africa performance to beat them.”
In 13 competitive fixtures between the sides, the Nigerians have won 6 times while the South Africans have triumphed twice.
The Super Eagles are certainly favourites going into this tie, despite South Africa's shocking win over Egypt. However, expect the tie to be keenly contested, as there is no love lost between the teams.
Final score: Nigeria 2-1 South AfricaPublished 10 Jul 2019, 20:18 IST