Ajayi aims to please Super Eagles fans ahead of crucial Bafana Bafana clash

Super Eagles and West Brom defender Semi Ajayi anticipates a challenging encounter when South Africa visit the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Friday for a crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The Super Eagles are currently holding a training camp in Uyo in preparation for this significant match, marking the resumption of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Semi Ajayi Super Eagles Power Rankings
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Ajayi, a mainstay in Nigeria's defence during the recent Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast, expects a similar level of difficulty as their previous AFCON encounter in January.

Recalling the AFCON semi-final clash between the two sides, the West Brom defender emphasises the fixture's intensity.

“It will be a tough game,” Ajayi said. “They gave us a real challenge at the AFCON, and we're expecting nothing less.

But we're definitely prepared and determined to do everything we can to secure the win.”

Ajayi's travel delay

The 31-year-old defender only joined the camp on Tuesday due to flight unavailability between Lagos and Uyo caused by the recent industrial action by the Nigeria Labour Congress.

Despite the setback, he is eager to deliver a victory for the Nigerian fans as the Super Eagles were put through their paces by new coach Finidi George.

The match holds extra significance as South Africa emerged victorious by two unanswered goals during their last meeting in Uyo back in 2017 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

In that encounter, Bafana Bafana secured their first win on Nigerian soil with goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau as the Eagles failed to fly.

Ajayi remains confident, underlining his and his teammates' desire to bring joy to the Nigerian fans with a win on Friday.

“We're very much looking forward to the game and hope to make Nigerians proud by taking all three points,” he declared.

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Nigeria's road to World Cup qualification

Nigeria edged out South Africa on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the AFCON semi-final. Now, they face them again as they strive for qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

With two draws (1-1 against Lesotho and Zimbabwe) in their opening qualifiers, Ajayi, who scored against Lesotho, acknowledges the importance of victories against South Africa on Friday and Benin Republic next Monday.

These wins would significantly boost their chances of reaching the World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada in 2026

Rwanda currently top the qualifying group, ahead of South Africa, Nigeria, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Benin Republic.

The Super Eagles will need to up their game to overcome the challenge and secure their place in the World Cup.

Ajayi aims to please Super Eagles fans ahead of crucial Bafana Bafana clash
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)