Nigeria vs South Africa: 3 Bafana Bafana players to watch

South Africa will face Nigeria in a semi-final tie of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations as they continue their quest for an Africa Cup of Nations title.

Bafana Bafana last won the title in 1996 when South Africa hosted the tournament, but since then, they have not had their hands on the trophy again.

To add more zest to Wednesday’s game, they meet a formidable foe who have denied them passage on past voyages for the title.

South Africa
Photo by Icon Sport

Nigeria defeated South Africa 2-0 in the semi-finals of the AFCON in 2000 in Lagos and then walloped the Bafana Bafana 4-0 at the 2004 edition in Tunisia.

At the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, Nigeria again triumphed over South Africa 2-1 in Alexandria in the quarter-finals to affirm their supremacy.

However, Hugo Broos has set his men to task as South Africa seek revenge and clamp the wings of the Super Eagles with a place in the final on February 11 as the prize.

Here are three players Nigeria have to be wary of if they harbour any hopes of making it to the final.

3 South Africa players to watch

Percy Tau

Percy Tau Bafana Bafana predicted XI vs Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

Tau, aged 29, stands as one of the pillars of this South African squad as they pursue their second continental title, their last triumph dating back to their AFCON victory in 1996 on home soil.

As the reigning Confederation of African Football (CAF) inter-club player of the year, thanks to his stellar performances with Egyptian giants Al Ahly, Tau brings invaluable experience and skill to the team.

Although he hasn't quite reached the anticipated heights in the tournament and faced the frustration of missing a penalty in South Africa's loss to Mali, Tau's impact on Bafana Bafana's journey to the semi-finals cannot be overstated.

Former Brighton star Tau possesses an exceptional knack for piercing through defences, consistently disrupting opponents' defensive lines—a quality that sets him apart.

Despite only finding the net once in the tournament, against Namibia, Tau remains a standout player for Bafana Bafana in the upcoming match.

Ronwen Williams

Ronwen Williams Bafana Bafana predicted XI vs Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

South Africa has had a history of producing fantastic goalkeepers in the past, and Ronwen Williams is fast establishing himself among the greats like Andre Arendse, Brian Baloyi, and Itumeleng Khune.

The 32-year-old Sundowns goalkeeper has stood firm in this year’s competition, helping Bafana Bafana into the semi-finals with fantastic saves in the group stage and the knockouts.

Blessed with sharp reflexes, Williams is a fan favourite in his homeland due to his heroics between the sticks at the Africa Cup of Nations and at club level. He cemented his legend by saving four out of five penalty kicks taken by Cape Verde, earning South Africa passage into the semis.

Hugo Broos will hope Williams repeats his heroics when they meet Nigeria in Wednesday’s semi-final clash at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.

Teboho Mokoena

Photo by Icon Sport

The 27-year-old midfielder is one of the unsung heroes of South Africa’s campaign so far at the Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.

Not flamboyant by any means, the midfielder has been quietly going about his business defending and creating chances for his teammates to profit from.

He’s brought his performances for his club side, Mamelodi Sundowns, to the national team, which has yielded dividends for Bafana Bafana.

His industry in the midfield has seen him grab a goal – that monster free-kick against Morocco in the Round of 16 and an assist so far.

Nigeria will definitely be wary of the midfielder when the two teams clash on Wednesday.

Nigeria vs South Africa: 3 Bafana Bafana players to watch
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.