Nigeria hosting South Africa in Group E is the stand-out fixture as 47 countries begin the group stage of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. Another big clash this weekend is the north African clash between Tunisia and Egypt in Group J.
The 12 group winners will qualify along with the best three runners-up will join hosts Cameroon in the finals. South Africa are looking for a first win ever win in a competitive match over Nigeria, there have been six wins for the Super Eagles and three draws since 1992.
The Super Eagles are aiming to qualify for the Nations Cup finals for the first time since winning the title in 2013. “We do not want to forget that South Africa partly contributed to us not going to the 2015 Cup of Nations,” said Nigeria’s stand-in captain Ogenyi Onazi. “This time, we must restore our pride and make sure we get the three points off them on Saturday. “Nigerians do not forgive losers easily and it is our responsibility to make the country proud whenever we are in action.”
Defender Thulani Hlatshwayo, who plays South African champions Wits, was named Bafana Bafana captain this week by new coach Stuart Baxter. “It will be a baptism of fire as captain, but we have come close to beating them in our last two meetings and I think they are there for the taking this time,” he insisted.
“I believe we have now overcome that psychological barrier of not having beaten them in an official match. “This will be a grudge match. We denied them a place at the 2015 Cup of Nations and they will be out for revenge, which might work to our advantage.” Nigeria’s German coach Gernot Rohr cautioned against over-optimism after he lead the Super Eagles to 2018 World Cup qualifying wins over Zambia and Algeria. “Our team is young and the future looks bright, but there is still considerable work to do,” he said.
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