Bafana have history to overcome against Nigeria

rugby06 February 2024 11:25| © Mzansi Football
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Ronwen Williams © Getty/Gallo

South Africa might have proven more competitive against Nigeria in their recent head-to-head clashes but their record in past Africa Cup of Nations meetings against the Super Eagles is a losing one.

Wednesday’s semifinal in Bouake marks the fourth time that the two continental superpowers go up against each other in the tournament, since they first met at the 2000 finals which Nigeria co-hosted with Ghana.

This is what happened in those three past encounters:

February 2000 – Nigeria 2 South Africa 0

Bafana’s last appearance in a Cup of Nations semifinal came in Lagos where they were swiftly dealt with by the Super Eagles, who scored in the first minute through Tijani Babangida. He ran at the Bafana defence to score a superb individual effort. Bafana had disposed of the co-hosts Ghana in the previous round and looked to have strong credentials as they looked to reach a third successive final. But it was a nightmare game for many in the side, notably Mark Fish and John Moshoeu, with little going right for Bafana. The Dutch-based Babangida then added a second just past the half-hour mark, curling the ball into the right side of the goal as he sprinted down the left, to effectively end any contest. South Africa went onto edge Tunisia on penalties in the third place play off while Nigeria lost on post-match spotkicks in their own final to Cameroon.

January 2004 – Nigeria 4 South Africa 0

A thumping loss for Bafana in Monastir, Tunisia in the group phase of the Cup of Nations after they had won their opening match against Benin. Nigeria were a whole different proposition and South Africa were quickly in trouble as Joseph Yobo scored in the fourth minute. Bafana were still in the contest before ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha doubled the score with a 64th minute penalty and substitute Peter Odemwingie rubbed salt into South African wounds with two goals in two minutes in the dying minutes. South Africa, coached then by Styles Phumo, were thoroughly outplayed and it contributed to a disappointing draw in their last group game against Morocco, which saw them drop out after the group stage of the tournament. Nigeria lost on penalties to eventual winners Tunisia in the semifinal.

June 2019 – Nigeria 2 South Africa 0

South Africa had upset hosts Egypt in the last-16 of the Cup of Nations to setup a meeting with Nigeria in Cairo in the quarterfinal of the newly expanded 24-team tournament. Samuel Chukwueze, who is in the squad for the tournament in the Ivory Coast, scored first after being set up by Alex Iwobi with his initial effort blocked by Thulani Hlatshwayo but falling back for him to finish on the run. Bongani Zungu equalised with 20 minutes to go from a header at a free kick, although initially it was not awarded for offside. It took a VAR check to show that Odion Ighalo had touched the ball on the way through, putting Zungu onside. However, a horror Ronwen Williams’ mistake at a corner allowed William Troost-Ekong to secure Nigeria a semifinal place as he netted a last-minute winner.