Nigeria vs South Africa: When Super Eagles got their revenge against Bafana Bafana

Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana will square off on Wednesday as they seek to punch their tickets to the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations.

Jose Peseiro and Hugo Broos, coaches of Nigeria and South Africa respectively, have done a tremendous job on their teams so far in the tournament.

For Peseiro, much maligned before the start of the tournament because of the spate of unimpressive results and performances, has managed to make the Super Eagles a rock-solid unit.

Super Eagles
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky / PA Images / Icon Sport

Since the 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in the first group game, Nigeria’s defence has not been breached since then. Despite Victor Osimhen’s failure to score since matchday one, Ademola Lookman has stepped up and delivered for Nigeria.

For South Africa, their free-flowing football and attacking game plan has served them well, with Percy Tau proving his mettle upfront. Their 2-0 win over pre-tournament favourites Morocco in a tough game is a testament to their growth.

The semi-final will be one to cherish, considering the rivalry between the two teams at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Nigeria last met South Africa in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 when Nigeria hosted the tournament at the turn of the century.

Tijani Babangida was the hero of the day as his brace helped Nigeria see off South Africa at the National Stadium in Lagos.

At the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the two teams met at the quarter-final stage in a game billed as a ‘revenge’ match by many Nigerians.

The genesis and the revelation

In qualification for the 2019 edition of the tournament, Nigeria’s first game in the series was against South Africa in Uyo in June of 2017.

Firstly, before that game, Nigeria had missed out on the 2015 edition of the AFCON (in Gabon) and the 2017 edition (in Equatorial Guinea), so Nigeria needed to start the qualification series on a good note.

Secondly, South Africa, at the time, had never beaten Nigeria at full international level in a competitive game.

While the former was achieved, the latter became a bitter pill for the Nigerians as Bafana Bafana outplayed and outclassed the Super Eagles, running out 2-0 winners right in Nigeria’s backyard.

That game was in the mind of several of Nigeria’s players, some who played in the game in Uyo as they made their way to the pitch to face South Africa again for a spot in the semi-finals of the 2019 AFCON.

Revenge is served for Super Eagles

The action at Cairo International Stadium kicked off with both teams eager to secure an early goal, yet their efforts in the opening stages saw wayward shots.

After squandering some earlier opportunities, the Super Eagles broke the deadlock in the 27th minute.

Samuel Chukwueze showcased nimble footwork, manoeuvring through the defence and firing past South Africa's goalkeeper Ronwen Williams at the second attempt, giving Nigeria a crucial lead.

Despite South Africa's attempts to retaliate, their last chance of the first half fell short, with Lebogang Mothiba's free-kick blocked by the defensive wall on the box's edge.

The score stood at 1-0 in favour of the Super Eagles at half-time, thanks to Chukwueze's goal. The Super Eagles had a few chances in the second half, but their finishing failed them.

The team paid the price for their missed opportunities when Bongani Zungu scored a header from Percy Tau's free-kick in the 71st minute.

Initially flagged for offside, the goal was awarded to South Africa after referee Rédouane Jiyed consulted with Video Assistant Referee (VAR), levelling the score at 1-1 with 19 minutes remaining.

Super Eagles live
PA Images / Icon Sport

However, Bafana Bafana lost focus in the closing stages, leading to Nigeria’s winner.

In the 89th minute, an unmarked William Troost-Ekong converted Moses Simon's corner-kick, securing a 2-1 victory for Nigeria over South Africa.

Wednesday’s game will definitely serve up another interesting match for both sides, with a huge stake in a place in the final.

Nigeria vs South Africa: When Super Eagles got their revenge against Bafana Bafana
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.