Nigeria will be up against South Africa in one of the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday.
Nigeria’s pedigree in this tournament makes them perennial contenders – victory would give them a sixth successive slot in the semi-finals and enhance their current run of three wins from their last four.
The three-time winners lifted the trophy in South Africa in 2013 and have lost just one of their last 11 matches – that setback against Madagascar in their final group game when coach Gernot Rohr rested several players.
Three goals by Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi helped them knock out reigning champions Cameroon during a frenetic round-of-16 clash in which the Super Eagles showed their ruthlessness in response to having far less possession than the holders.
South Africa not blessed with obvious stars, they demonstrated a keen resilience and committed sense of teamwork on their way to the quarter-finals, with their winning goal arriving via a lethal counter-attack as Egypt pushed men forward.
While the South Africa coach Baxter might seek to emulate that unpredictability by introducing more changes, the greater likelihood is an untouched lineup that will, if nothing else, reward his victorious players and please their increasingly optimistic fans.
Nigeria will receive a significant boost should John Obi Mikel return from an injury that forced him to limp out of the defeat to Madagascar.
Nigeria vs South kickoff time is at 8pm Nigerian time.
Head To Head
Nigeria’s concerns will be heightened by the most recent meetings between the two teams. Bafana Bafana enjoyed a 2-0 win in their encounter during the early stages of qualifying for AFCON 2019, although Rohr’s men earned a 1-1 draw in the return fixture last November.
That first-leg win in 2017 is South Africa’s only competitive victory in their meetings with Nigeria, although they won 2-1 in a friendly in 2004 and have not lost to these opponents in almost six years.
With the exception of South Africa’s win, four of the last five meetings have been draws – perhaps the most memorable of which was in the 2014 AFCON, when former Bournemouth striker Tokelo Rantie put South Africa 2-0 up before Reading’s Sone Aluko struck twice for Nigeria, including a 94th-minute equaliser.
Nigeria vs South Africa lineups
Nigeria Possible Starting Lineup
South Africa Possible Starting Lineup
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