On Saturday afternoon Nigeria met South Africa in a match day 5 qualifier for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon next year. South Africa surprised Nigeria and beat them in Uyo on the matchday 1. Since then, the Super Eagles have raised their game and managed three straight wins to go top of the group, needing only a single point from this match.
Before this match, at the 90,000 capacity First National Bank Stadium in Johannesburg, the Super Eagles have played Bafana Bafana in 13 head to head encounters. The Eagles have won seven of them, while the Bafana have won only two and the last one back in 2004. In fact, before the match in Uyo, the two sides played out three straight games without a winner.
This Saturday, Nigeria lined with a weakened but still a strong starting eleven: Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal, Kenneth Omeruo, Leon Balogun, William Troost Ekong and Jamilu Collins in defence, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu in holding midfield roles, Alex Iwobi in the Number 10 position, with Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho and Samuel Kalu in attack. Coach Gernot Rohr experimented with a 3-5-2 formation in training but reverted to his standard 4-2-1-3 formation for this match.
The game kicked off at 3 pm local time. Nigeria started stronger out of the gates, attacking the South Africans. They had a couple of chances before Musa was in with a good chance but was judged to be offside by mistake in the 8th minute. Only a few minutes later, The Super Eagles were rewarded for their effort after a cross from Samuel Kalu forced Buhle Mkhwanazi to put the ball into his own net. An own goal, but Nigeria will take it.
South Africa started to get back into the game and managed to create a few chances before Percy Tau sent a good ball towards Lebo Mothiba who scored to level the game in the 25th minute. Musa and Iwobi were creating problems for the Bafana defence but the score stayed 1:1 going into the break.
From the start of the second half, both sides were trying to get themselves in on goal with Nigeria having the better chances. Close to the final whistle, Musa, who’s been excellent throughout this match, was in with a chance to score but was ruled offside again. And once again it was the wrong call. South Africa couldn’t produce a good enough chance to beat the Nigerian defence and the Eagles held on for the final whistle and an end result of 1:1.
Nigeria now have 10 points at the top of Group E and are going to Cameroon for the AFCON 2019! Libya have demolished Seychelles 8:1 and are just a point behind South Africa who they will play at home in the last group match to decide who will qualify for next year’s big competition.