Published: Thu, July 11, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Nigerian striker Ighalo could burst South African bubble

Nigerian striker Ighalo could burst South African bubble

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr concedes that Bafana Bafana are favourites for tonight's big Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final but his South African counterpart Stuart Baxter is having none of that.

The Super Eagles are expected to dominate possession early on, so 3/1 for Ighalo to strike first again is worth a saver from the Nigeria vs South Africa odds.

The Super Eagles booked their place with a 3-2 victory over Cameroon, while the Bafana Bafana grabbed a late victor to knock out the hosts, Egypt, in the previous round. We realised that many teams were motivated by playing Nigeria and raised their game against us. Lacking a proper goals galore encounter, this round of 16 match lit the tournament up with a topsy-turvy turn of events that saw the match switch hands several times during the 90 minutes before eventually landing Nigeria's way. And that is how we'll approach this game.

Most South Africans had written off Bafana Bafana (The Boys) after a dismal one-win group campaign and were discussing who should replace unpopular coach Stuart Baxter. "The movement around the box was not clear and we had to improve on that. So we will respect Nigeria, but we will not fear them". "This is special now, you're getting to the sharp end of the stick and it's people that think like winners who will end up winning to tournament". And try in that way to surprise them with that game plan.

Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo believes the AFCON 2019 quarter-final against Bafana Bafana will be more challenging than their victory over reigning champions Cameroon.

South Africa, who hosted Afcon in 2013, beat Nigeria away in their opening match of the Afcon qualifiers in June 2017 - one of Rohr's first games in charge of Nigeria - and were held 1-1 in the return.

He first surfaced in South African football when he took the national team job in 2004, resigning the following year after a failed World Cup qualifying bid and returning to Vissel Kobe - a decade after his arrival for a first spell at the Japanese club coincided with the aftermath of an natural disaster that devastated the city. "Lorch made his debut and he justified his selection, so these are two players I'm anxious about".

"What was lacking in the team before was teamwork and team spirit, but so far, I will say they have been adjusting".

"No‚ we'll go into the game as we do every game".

Now for South Africa. Now would be a ideal time to end that negative run.

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