New-look Nige­ria to face re­vived Bafana

In­juries have forced changes in Bax­ter’s Af­con team

Sunday World - - Sport - By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Nige­ria will field a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team to the one that lost 2-0 to SA last year when the two na­tions meet at FNB Sta­dium on Satur­day (3pm).

Fol­low­ing their win in Uyo, the oil-pro­duc­ing state in Nige­ria, Bafana will no doubt fancy their chances on home soil in the 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fiers. How­ever, the Su­per Ea­gles have re­venge on their mind and only four of the play­ers who started against Bafana in Uyo may also start this time.

Wil­liam Ekong, Wil­fred Ndindi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Alex Iwobi started against Bafana and all fea­tured in Nige­ria’s last match, a 3-2 win against Libya last month.

For­ward Ahmed Musa, who came on as a sub­sti­tute against Bafana is set to start at FNB.

Bafana, mean­while, are also a dif­fer­ent side to the one that played in Uyo.

Of those who played in that

match, Te­bogo Langer­man, Erick Mathoho, Dean Fur­man, Bongani Zungu, Kea­gan Dolly, Sibu­siso Vi­lakazi, Le­bo­gang Manyama and Tokelo Rantie, who was one of the scor­ers on that oc­ca­sion, are not even a part of the squad mostly be­cause of in­juries.

Bafana are sec­ond in Group E, a point be­hind Nige­ria. But Libya, in third and four points be­hind Bafana, are still hold­ing out and still have a date with Bafana early next year.

Bafana have a chance at re­demp­tion and are still faced with a big op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify.

But, the goal­less draw against Sey­chelles last month means they can­not af­ford any slip ups.

Bafana coach Stu­art Bax­ter said he was left “frus­trated” and “an­gry” af­ter that match and, no doubt, was deep in thought about what’s next.

Against Nige­ria, Bax­ter would be look­ing to the play­ers to re­deem the na­tion’s hope of reach­ing CAF Cameroon 2019.

It’s no easy task for Bafana. Last year’s win against Nige­ria was their first ever in com­pet­i­tive games against the West Africans, who are on form with three straight wins and 10 goals scored.

Over­all, Nige­ria have won seven, SA two, in­clud­ing a friendly, and there have been four draws be­tween the two na­tions in all com­pe­ti­tions since 1992.

Bafana cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo says they will be ready to deal with any threat posed by Odion Ighalo and com­pany to en­sure progress to the Af­con.

“We know what we will be up against, so all we need is for the fans to turn up,” he said.

/Getty Im­ages/ James Baylis / Veli Nhlapo

Su­per Ea­gles striker Odion Ighalo. Bafana Bafana cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo.

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