AFCON Final Ticket: Super Eagles, Bafana Bafana Rekindle Rivalry

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BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – As the Super Eagles get set to battle Bafana Bafana of South Africa after seeing off fierce competition in Angola and Cameroon, they will be seeking to break a 10-year-old jinx since lifting the AFCON trophy in 2013.

From their seven final appearances, Nigeria have been crowned AFCON champions on three occasions, while also finishing third on eight occasions, with the most recently being in 2019.

Keeper Williams praises his team’s resilient backline ahead of today’s clash

With reigning champions, Teranga Lions of Senegal and record holders, Pharaohs of Egypt dumped out of the tournament, the Super Eagles’ status as one of the pre-tournament favourites has gotten a further boost and ultimately Coach José Peseiro will be eyeing the cup triumph for his side.

Indeed, this is a much-anticipated clash and the head-to-head history of both countries speaks volumes of what African football fans and pundits should expect today inside Stade de Bouaké. The two sides have faced each other 14 times, with the first fixture coming in 1992.

They last met at the 2019 edition of AFCON held in Egypt. So far, the existing records put Nigeria on top when it comes to head-to-head performance, winning seven (7) games, drawing five (5), and losing just two (2) over the years.

Coming off their almost 30-year ban from the soccer fiesta due to the apartheid regime, Bafana Bafana have since emerged as a football powerhouse in the continent. They were crowned AFCON champions at their inaugural tournament in 1996 and went on to finish second and third in 1998 and 2000.

The South Africans, having failed to qualify for the 2021 edition of the competition, are keen to make up for lost time this year. In the ongoing competition, they defeated Morocco and Cape Verde to reach the semi-finals.

Below are the facts and figures about Super Eagles’ impressive journey to the last four
Shaking off their jittery start in this year’s AFCON campaign, the Super Eagles of Nigeria soared into the semi-finals impressively to send out a strong signal of being title contenders.

The three-time champions face South Africa in Bouake on Wednesday at 18h00 in what promises to be an action-packed encounter.

Group A – Finished Second place

Drawn in a tough Group A consisting of tournament hosts, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea Bissau.

The Super Eagles finished second in their group after a worrying 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea saw them bounce back against the Elephants with a narrow 1-0 win and a similar scoreline against Guinea-Bissau which earned them a place in the round of 16.

Round of 16 (Nigeria 2-0 Cameroon)

The round of 16 saw Nigeria getting into the rhythm and hitting full speed. An interesting tie between them and Cameroon saw the red-hot Ademola Lookman finding the back of the net twice for his side to send the Indomitable Lions crashing out of the competition.

Quarter-Finals (Nigeria 1-0 Angola)

The quarter-finals were not so much of a high-scoring match for the Super Eagles as they narrowly edged a resilient Angola 1-0 in Abidjan. While they may not have found the back of the net more than once, the three-time champions demonstrated a true champions’ mentality with their impressive game-management ability.

Semi-Final (Nigeria vs South Africa)

Another big assignment awaits them against their old-time foes who they eliminated at this stage of the competition in the 2000 edition in Uyo.

The Super Eagles will no doubt be facing a confident Bafana Bafana side yearning for continental glory with their last taste of continental success dating back to 1996. – With CAFonline.com report

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