The two teams meet at the Cairo International stadium at 21:00 on Wednesday as they battle for a place in the top four in this tournament.
Bafana are unbeaten against the Super Eagles in the last five matches and this includes the famous win in Uyo two years ago, which was Baxter’s first game in charge, in his second stint. He’s still expecting a difficult game.
It’s been 19 years since Bafana last reached the semi-finals of the AFCON, it was in Ghana 2000 where they beat the hosts to reach this stage. Ironically, they lost to the co-hosts—–Nigeria—in the last four in that tournament.
There’s also a clean bill of health in the Bafana camp and credit should go to Dr Thulani Ngwenya and his medic team for this sterling work. There hasn’t been a single muscle injury till now and Baxter is also focusing on the importance of mental strength going to this game.
After a difficult group stages where Bafana lost two matches, things are turning around for the better in the knockout phase. Bafana’s 1-0 win over the hosts Egypt this past weekend, wasn’t just about the result but also the good performance too.
Coming to this clash against Nigeria, Baxter is giving context as to what these big results against big teams mean to his team.
Baxter has also responded to Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr who sees Bafana as favourites coming to this game based on the result against Egypt last weekend. He says they will have to be at their best to overcome the Nigerians.
Bafana also have to deal with the Odion Ighalo problem in Wednesday’s game, the Chinese based striker finished as the top goal scorer with seven goals in the AFCON qualifiers. Already in this tournament, he’s amongst the top goal scorers with three goals. Baxter was asked if there’s a special plan for him.
From playing in front of 75 000 spectators against Egypt, the crowds when the home team has not been playing in this tournament have not been good at all except when another North African team is playing.
With Egypt out of the competition, organisers are concerned that the attendance will continue to dwindle but Baxter and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams are not really worried about that.
8 teams, 4 spots…. Can you predict who’s going to reach the Total AFCON 2019 Semi-Finals? ?
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 9, 2019
– Report by Velile Mnyandu