Live Updates: Nigeria vs South Africa (AFCON Quarterfinals)
11 July, 2019, 00:24
Four-time African champions Nigeria have their eyes fixed on another title, but while they start as favourites for their quarter-final against South Africa, they do so in a respectful manner.
The Super Eagles were back to full strength when edging out Cameroon 3-2 at the last-16 stage, with former Watford striker Odion Ighalo bagging a brace and Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi also netting. South Africa are priced as 10/3 outsiders, with a draw at 2/1.
Forward Lebo Mothiba had before the tournament boldly likened the team's training sessions to those of Barcelona, but such boasts seemed foolish as their cautious approach saw them fail to register shots on goal in two of three group games.
Most South Africans had written off Bafana Bafana (The Boys) after a dismal one-win group campaign and were discussing who should replace unpopular coach Stuart Baxter.
"One of our players, Bongani Zungu was eight years (old) when South Africa last won an Afcon game on foreign soil so to go from that to beating the host nation the way we did is massive", Baxter said. "The movement around the box was not clear and we had to improve on that". But I don't think he's fooling anybody, to tell you the truth.
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"With the Egyptian fans behind us and the new spirit in the team, I see them scaling through". Therefore, I wanted to press higher.
"I believe the Super Eagles will beat South Africa but it won't come easy".
Baxter's side showed terrific energy in that clash, with Thembinkosi Lorch the standout player. "Lorch made his debut and he justified his selection, so these are two players I'm anxious about".
He first surfaced in South African football when he took the national team job in 2004, resigning the following year after a failed World Cup qualifying bid and returning to Vissel Kobe - a decade after his arrival for a first spell at the Japanese club coincided with the aftermath of an natural disaster that devastated the city. "They have been for a long time", he answered, according to SAFA.net. "But this is the AFCON now it's the quarter-finals so it's going to be a different ball game".
If Nigeria and South Africa can replicate their last-16 form, a titanic struggle for supremacy is on the cards at the Cairo International Stadium. Now would be a ideal time to end that negative run.
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And I think this team really understands, and is so prideful that we do carry with us other people when we step out on the pitch. President Trump's played coy this week, telling reporters he hasn't yet thought about whether he would invite the U.S.
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