Bafana go into AFCON semi-final against Nigeria as under-dogs: Broos

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Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos admits that South Africa will go into their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match against Nigeria as under-dogs.

The bitter rivals will meet in only their second ever AFCON encounter in Bouake, Ivory Coast, on Wednesday evening.

Nigeria are playing in their 19th Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and Bafana Bafana in their eighth.

The Super Eagles are vying for their fourth continental can crown, while South Africa are making their fourth semi-final appearance since readmission in 1992.

Nigeria will go into the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final clash against Bafana Bafana on Wednesday evening as overwhelming favourites.

But Bafana Bafana cannot be underestimated, despite just one victory over the Super Eagles in a competitive match.

They beat Nigeria 2-nil in an AFCON qualifier in Uyo in June 2017 thanks to second half goals by Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau.

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos, “I have to say we are very happy that we are playing in the semi-finals of the AFCON; I think for many people it was unexpected, but we did it which means that South Africa became a good team and it’s more than 20 years ago that South Africa will be playing in the semi-final.

Even more that we play the final so which means we have a lot of motivation. We are in the semi-final already, but we want to play the final on Sunday. We are playing against a very good team, number six in the African rankings with a lot of players playing overseas. It’s the same situation like a few weeks ago when we had to face Morocco – also a good team and players playing in Europe.”

The two teams boast good defensive records in the tournament so far.

AFCON I We are happy and motivated: Hugo Broos

The Super Eagles have conceded only once — in their opening match of the tournament when they drew 1-all with Equatorial Guinea.

Bafana conceded two goals, also in their opening match of the tournament when they went down 2-nil to Mali.

“I think for many people, Nigeria will be the favourites to win that game, but as you know in football it is not always the favourite that wins, and we are confident and motivated we will try to make sure that it does not happen to South Africa after twenty years in the semi-finals,” says Broos.

Nigeria’s star player and Africa’s reigning Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, is doubtful for the match.

The Napoli forward is experiencing abdominal discomfort after being stretchered off in stoppage time in the slender 1-nil win over Angola in the quarter-finals.

South Africa will also be without the injured forward Thapelo Maseko, who will no longer play any part in the tournament due to a hamstring injury.

Bafana Bafana Captain Ronwen Williams, “We are proud as a team to be in the semi-final – obviously there’s big rivalry between the two countries and they are the team that beat us last time we were in the AFCON in 2019 so there’s a lot at stake. There’s a lot to play for, we are ready, and looking forward to the game.”

The Super Eagles are looking for their fourth AFCON title, and have finished as runners-up three times.

The last time Nigeria were crowned champions was back in 2013, in a tournament played in South Africa.

“Stats don’t play the game, you know there were many stats that were against us going into this tournament and we proved that stats don’t play the game. What happened in the past is in the past, we can’t change that but what we can change is tomorrow,” adds Williams.

The two nations will renew their rivalry when they meet in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers later this year.

Nigeria will host the first leg clash on the 3rd of June, with South Africa hosting the return leg on the 8th of September.