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AFCON 2023: Nigeria’s dominance of South Africa underlines semifinal clash between Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles

South Africa has a big score to settle with Nigeria in their mouth-watering 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal, considering Bafana Bafana’s dreadful record against the Super Eagles.

Thulani Hlatshwayo of South Africa challenged by Wilfred Ndidi of Nigeria during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals, quarterfinals match between Nigeria and South Africa at Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt on 10 July 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

South African football fans could be forgiven for not being overly confident ahead of the crunch 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal against Nigeria at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Bafana Bafana’s record against Nigeria since the nations first met in 1992 is quite poor, to put it mildly. The Super Eagles have got their number, and it will be a truly historic result if South Africa pulls off the upset.

As stated in the video above, both nations have met on 15 previous occasions. Nigeria has won eight times, South Africa twice, with five games ending in a draw. I would be kind to describe these two as rivals if one seriously considered such numbers.

The Super Eagles have won all the matches against Bafana Bafana at the Africa Cup of Nations. It ended 2-0 in the semifinal of the 2000 edition (Nigeria/Ghana), 4-0 if was hosted by Tunisia in 2004, and 2-1 in the quarter-final of the Egypt tournament in 2019.

South Africa’s only previous victory over Nigeria in competitive men’s football at senior level was in the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, when Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau fired Bafana to a famous 2-0 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo back in 2017. That result was testament to how South Africa has quietly closed the gap on their West Africa counterparts since the 2000s.

What everyone can agree on is that Hugo Broos’ men have absolutely nothing to lose when they take on José Peseiro’s charges, with the local Ivorians likely to throw their weight fully behind the underdogs. The green-and-gold have more than achieved their targets at the tournament, and are guaranteed a shot at a medal, though this should not be their mentality at all. The world should not be enough!

The favourites are known for their self-confidence on any given day, but with destiny awaiting their so-called “bunnies”, there will be nerves somewhere deep down. And if South Africa is prepared to be as opportunistic as they have been through the tournament, then who knows, indeed…

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