Nigeria’s showdown against South Africa at AFCON 2024 on Wednesday marks the latest chapter in their storied rivalry, having clashed 14 times before.
Bafana Bafana are eager to settle the score after their heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to the Super Eagles in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
With a place in the final up for grabs, Nigeria are determined to continue their winning streak against the South Africans as they aim for a fourth African title.
Coach Jose Peseiro has made it clear that his squad will approach the game like a cup final, leaving everything on the pitch to secure their spot in the ultimate showdown.
The Portuguese tactician is banking on his players to rise to the occasion and secure their ticket to the final on February 11th.
As the anticipation builds, here are three players Bafana Bafana must keep a close eye on if they're to secure a spot in the final at the Allasane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday.
3 Super Eagles players to watch
The Napoli striker needs no introduction as he will definitely be in the minds of the South African defenders.
He came into the tournament as the African footballer of the year, and even though he has not exactly lit up the tournament, he will always be a threat if he is on the pitch.
Osimhen has scored just one goal in five games, but his power play and harrying of defenders have helped Nigeria offensively.
Blessed with pace and fantastic heading abilities, Osimhen is regarded as the golden boy of Nigerian football.
He has scored 21 goals in 33 internationals to buttress this point. Bafana Bafana will have to be wary of him as he seeks to add more goals to his kitty for Nigeria.
Veteran defender and vice-captain of the Super Eagles, who almost did not make the squad after considering retiring from international football.
For the better part of the last 12 months, the PAOK Salonika defender, who has 66 caps for Nigeria, was ignored by Jose Peseiro after Nigeria’s 4-0 loss to Portugal in an international friendly prior to the 2022 World Cup.
After some introspection and stellar performances for his club, Ekong was called back just in time for the Africa Cup of Nations, and this seems to be a master-stroke.
He has been a Trojan in Nigeria’s back-line with his commitment and leadership qualities at the back, helping the Super Eagles into the semis while conceding just one goal in the process.
Surely, he will be one man Peseiro will count on to shut out Bafana Bafana’s attacking threat.
Undoubtedly, Nigeria's stand-out performer in the tournament thus far, and there's no doubt he'll be aiming to maintain his stellar form in the upcoming semi-final clash against South Africa.
The 26-year-old Atalanta man has netted three crucial goals—all during the knock-out stages—propelling the Super Eagles past formidable opponents like Cameroon and Angola.
He has grown into the tournament with every game and has been a nightmare for opposing defenders with his decoy runs, position and trickery on the ball.
Lookman is currently enjoying a purple patch in a Super Eagles jersey, reminiscent of his debut back in March 2022 against Ghana.
The semi-final showdown with South Africa presents yet another opportunity for him to prolong his impressive form and steer Nigeria towards the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations.