image source: google
The African cup of Nations continues to gather momentum as we head into the quarter final stage of the competition. The group stages where a bit not too interesting for me due though, but 'am glad the knockout stages have rekindled that frenzy and tension we needed.
There have been some surprises so far in the tournament, especially as regards Benin Republic sending Morocco home at the round of 16 through penalty shootouts, after both teams settled for a 1-1 draw even after extra time. They say it's that stage when the boys are separated from the men, but this competition and its results so far seems to have defied that age long saying, I may be wrong though.
If one look around the tournament currently, no matter how sentimental we may be, the absence of the host nation Egypt and the Vacuum left by the elimination of the defending Champions Cameroon, cannot be swept under the carpet. I would have wished for them to hang around longer in the competition, especially the Egyptians.
It's not always awesome for a host nation to get kicked out so early in a competition, it goes a long way to deplete the frenzy, and considering the fact that these are two African football giants, the tournament would have been more interesting with them around. Well, in the case of the Cameroonians, I couldn't help but pray for them to go. They got pitched with Nigeria, so I had no choice.
Let's Talk About The Titanic Clash Between The Super Eagles Of Nigeria and The Bafana Of South-Africa on Wednesday.
There have been lots of reactions and opinions from sports fans as regards the quarter final fixture between the three times African champions Nigeria, and the 2010 World Cup Hosts, South Africa. While many Nigerians are a bit relieved that Egypt would have been a tougher opponent for the Super Eagles in the quarter final round, others are sending out their warnings ahead of the game.
For me personally, I was a bit relieved that the Pharoes of Egypt were eliminated, but I wasn't convinced that the South Africans will be a walk in the park for Nigeria. Stuart Baxter's men have shown so far that they are in for the trophy, and the way they got rid of a highflying Egyptian side in the round of 16, sends a big signal that it's definitely gonna be a big fight between the two sides.
Both teams will look forward to grab the semi final ticket when they step on the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night. Truth is, this Bafana Bafana side seems to have discovered how to stop the Eagles from beating them, and their past five encounters with the Super Eagles is something to be worried about. In their past five games, South-Africa have remained unbeaten against Nigeria, however they have beaten Nigeria within those outings. That was a 2-0 win over the Eagles during the qualifiers.
With such psychological consciousness, it will an added advantage to Baxter's side, and Rohr needs to cross all his "T(s)" and dot all his "I(s)" if he must go past the Bafana Bafana into the next stage. The South-African side are good on counter attack, especially with a fast winger like Tau, who has got an awesome footwork. He is one of the attacking backbone of Baxter's side and could stretch the Nigerian defense when exploring his chances.
Jay-Jay Okocha has also expressed his worries ahead of the clash on Wednesday, and have minced no words in accepting how tough the clash will be. He also went on to indicate the South African players Nigeria need to give extra attention to. In fact, the former Bolton and PSG player sees no easy encourage for the Three times African Champions.
"I believe in the team but I'm worried about Lorch and Tau. They look the most dangerous players for Bafana Bafana going forward and they have been instrumental, especially in the last game. Lorch made his debut and he justified his selection, so these are two players I'm worried about." He said.
When asked about his expectations and the possible outcome of the match, the former Nigerian Captain said "It will be a great match and the good thing is that both teams found good form at the right time but of course, as a Nigerian, I will like to see Nigeria go through. I will also like to see a good derby match, a match that will represent African football, a classic Afcon match but at the end of the day, let us narrowly win the game." Okocha told SABC Football.
What are your predictions ahead of this clash, do you see Nigeria Progressing to the next round?