Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Mat­she­lane Mam­abolo

JAY-JAY Okocha may not have gone into coach­ing af­ter bring­ing an end to his il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, but the for­mer Nige­rian in­ter­na­tional’s tech­ni­cal anal­y­sis of the game is among the most sought af­ter.

And so it was that when he was in town for a Bun­desliga event this week, many clam­oured for his views on what will tran­spire at the FNB Sta­dium on Satur­day when his coun­try takes on South Africa in an Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier.

“South Africa and Nige­ria is al­ways that kind of match where brag­ging rights are ev­ery­thing. So that will be a big mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor for both teams, es­pe­cially for us be­cause we lost the first match,” said the man, who played in Ger­many and Eng­land, to much ap­plause.

At the start of the qual­i­fiers for Cameroon 2019, Stu­art Baxter’s Bafana Bafana achieved the unimag­in­able when they beat the Su­per Ea­gles in their own back­yard.

It was South Africa’s first official vic­tory over Nige­ria since read­mis­sion to in­ter­na­tional foot­ball in 1992 and it raised hopes of Bafana strolling into qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the bi­en­nial, con­ti­nen­tal show­piece.

But draws with Libya and the Sey­chelles sand­wiched a ham­mer­ing of the In­dian Ocean is­landers to leave Bafana once again hav­ing to hope results else­where go in their favour to qual­ify.

Not so for Nige­ria, who now top the group and come to Jo­han­nes­burg un­der lit­tle pressure, if any.

“We have a slight ad­van­tage. A draw will be enough for us. South Africa are un­der pressure even though they might be con­fi­dent be­cause they beat us in the first leg. I know the teams are a lit­tle dif­fer­ent now but we will take pride in get­ting re­venge.”

Okocha though, knows just how de­mand­ing his coun­try­men can be of the na­tional team and has called for pa­tience as the tech­ni­cal team and the as­so­ci­a­tion work to bring back the glory days.

“We have a squad of good young play­ers who can turn things around, they have the abil­ity. But our prob­lem is al­ways great ex­pec­ta­tions. Let’s change our men­tal­ity and al­low them to ma­ture. The ex­pe­ri­ence they got from the World Cup has built them and they will go on to achieve big things. I be­lieve we’re on the right track. “

A for­mer Bafana player, Rowen Fer­nan­dez, mean­while has urged

South Africa to make good use of home ad­van­tage.

“It is never ideal to be in the sit­u­a­tion Bafana are in be­cause it brings pressure. But the nice thing is that they are play­ing at home and they should cap­i­talise on that, al­though that can some­times put the team on the back foot if they do not start well. Also they have beaten Nige­ria al­ready and that win should be a con­fi­dence booster for the match.”

Af­ter the Nige­ria game, Bafana will be left with an away clash with Libya to com­plete the qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign which will see the top two sides qual­ify for the Af­con. |


Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa in ac­tion dur­ing the third round of the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge at Sun City yes­ter­day

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