‘South Africa no longer fear Super Eagles’ – Former CAF Player of the Year worried by Bafana’s rise

Victor Ikpeba, former Super Eagles and AS Monaco forward, has cautioned the Nigerian national football team to be vigilant against the threat posed by South Africa.

The Super Eagles will host Bafana Bafana at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Friday, June 7, in a 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The Super Eagles are winless in two games and will look to recover from their poor start to the World Cup qualifiers. Nigeria is currently third in Group C of the CAF World Cup qualifiers, one point below South Africa and two points behind leaders Rwanda.

This will be the two sides' second meeting in recent months after their semi-final clash at the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024), which was played in Ivory Coast, where Nigeria emerged victorious via a penalty shootout.

'South Africa no longer fear Super Eagles' – Former CAF Player of the Year worried by Bafana's rise
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Ikpeba, who won the AFCON 1994 title with the Super Eagles, cautioned the Super Eagles players to be cautious against the South Africans. He also urged the Nigerian football faithful to support the Super Eagles so they can maximise their home advantage.

Ikpeba urges Super Eagles to step up against resilient South Africa in World Cup qualifier

In a recent interview with Score Nigeria, the 50-year-old highlighted the challenge South Africa poses to Nigeria.

“South Africa will be stubborn as we saw at the last AFCON,” he warned. “They have a lot going for them and are no longer intimidated by Nigeria. The Super Eagles have to therefore step up to beat them in Uyo. It won’t be an easy match, but Nigeria have the players to win. This is a game of their lives and Finidi (George) has to get them to win this match. We have to support the team to get the job done.”

Now a member of the technical committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ikpeba was a member of the Super Eagles team at the FIFA World Cups in 1994, where he played, and in 1998, where he scored the lone goal against Bulgaria in the second game. Ikpeba also played a pivotal role in winning the 1994 African Nations Cup.

'South Africa no longer fear Super Eagles' – Former CAF Player of the Year worried by Bafana's rise
Photo by Icon Sport

Ikpeba was also part of the talented Nigerian team that overcame formidable challenges to secure Africa's inaugural football gold medal at the Olympics nearly three decades ago. 

He made 31 appearances for the Super Eagles and scored seven goals within the period.

Impact of Victor Osimhen's absence on the Super Eagles

The absence of Victor Osimhen due to injury will undoubtedly be a significant blow to the Nigerian national football team, the Super Eagles, as they prepare to face South Africa in their upcoming World Cup qualifier.

Osimhen, who has scored 21 goals in 35 games for the Super Eagles, has been a pivotal figure in the team's attacking setup, providing goals, creativity, and leadership on the field.

Osimhen's ability to find the back of the net has been crucial for Nigeria, often serving as the primary attacking outlet. His absence leaves a void in terms of goal-scoring prowess, which the team will need to fill collectively.

Players like Ademola Lookman, who has been in good form recently, as well as Victor Boniface and Paul Onuachu, known for their scoring ability, will need to step up and shoulder the responsibility in Osimhen's absence.

'South Africa no longer fear Super Eagles' – Former CAF Player of the Year worried by Bafana's rise
Photo by Icon Sport

Finidi George will need to make tactical adjustments to compensate for Osimhen's absence, possibly altering the formation or style of play to suit the available personnel. This might involve deploying different players in attacking roles or adjusting the team's approach to exploit South Africa's weaknesses.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.