Bafana Bafana have completed preparations for their international friendly match against Nigeria which will take place on Sunday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. Kick-off is at 15:30. The South Africans come into this match as underdogs due to their history with the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
In 11 meetings between the two nations, South Africa has only won once in a friendly match with the visitors scoring 25 times to South Africa’s five goals. But they will be confident of victory owing to their last two results; the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers – South Africa played to a goalless draw against Nigeria in Cape Town in the first leg and allowed the home side to snatch a 2-2 draw away in the return fixture in Uyo, Nigeria. The latter result denied the Super Eagles a chance to defend their AFCON title.
Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba said: ‘I always say to people what you did yesterday, today and tomorrow are not the same – what you did the other day won’t come back the same today. Even though we know what to expect from Nigeria, they will come here spitting fire. Remember in 1996 when we won the AFCON trophy and they said that we are not the champions of Africa because they were not there, and that is still burning them, so they will come here wanting to win badly because we also denied them the chance to defend their AFCON title. But we are not fooled by their loss to Uganda midweek, we know they just want to win. We have to protect the pride of the nation. We want to take over because they have been claiming that they are the kings of Africa. So I think this is the chance again to make sure that we stamp our authority on African football. I am happy that they brought most of their top players then no one will have an excuse.’ Asked whether he has the team to beat Nigeria after all these years, Mashaba had this to say: ‘It is not about who you have in the team, but about what they can do on the day. That we have only defeated them once in eleven matches shows they don’t also come here like sheep to slaughter, they mean business. When they play South Africa it’s war, and they tell themselves that they can’t lose to us, once we have that mentality we can also go places.’ South Africa defeated Swaziland 3-1 on Wednesday (25 March), but Mashaba says it’s all in the past: ‘A nation without history will perish. We know what we did and how we won against Swaziland, and we know that we need to step up our gear for the next match because it is not the same competition-wise and also not the same in terms of the mental strength needed. It’s going to be a tough encounter but we have seen the players and what they can do. Picking the starting eleven will not be easy because we have committed players, players who want to play, players who raise their hands to say I am available, but we are halfway there and I believe we will have a very strong and competitive on the field.’
Bafana Bafana will wear black armbands in the match in memory of fallen South African legend Steve Kalamazoo Mokone who passed away last Friday (20 March 2015) in the United States of America after a long illness.
Photo credit: Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix