As the Nigeria team gears up for their semi-final against Bafana Bafana clash in the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024), Ademola Lookman reflectedon the weight of representing his country internationally.
The Atalanta star's stellar performances propelled the Super Eagles into the AFCON semi-finals.
His decisive brace against Cameroon in the Round of 16 and the crucial goal against Angola in the quarter-finals cement Nigeria's path to the next stage of the competition.
With a sense of honour and duty, the 26-year-old acknowledges the immense pressure that accompanies wearing the national jersey.
Despite the expectations and scrutiny, Lookman embraces the responsibility that comes with donning the Nigerian colours, recognising it as a privilege to represent his nation and its passionate footballing community.
“I feel the pressure wearing this shirt,” the 26-year-old said.
“Every single time I put on the jersey, that's just what comes with being a Nigerian and playing for the country, so I'm proud to do that, to take that responsibility.”
How did Bafana Bafana set up Super Eagles clash?
Bafana Bafana produced a memorable penalty shootout triumph over Cape Verde in their quarter-final clash on Saturday at the Stade Charles Konan Banny de Yamoussoukro to book their place in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Before they entered their clash against the Blue Sharks, the South Africans were readying themselves for an exit.
The Blue Sharks were one of the best sides in the tournament, boasting a culture of beautiful, effective football as well as a squad that consisted of the likes of Ryan Mendes and Bebé.
Cape Verde turned in an underwhelming performance though, despite dominating possession and creating most of the chances.
The match itself was a thrilling spectacle despite it finishing on 0-0 as Cape Verde attempted to impose themselves early on.
Without wanting to downplay the skill and brilliance of South Africa's triumph, one of the key ingredients of their success in the Ivory Coast is the togetherness and spirit the players display.
Banded together with nothing to lose and no one to prove, they
seized their moment in the spotlight with everything they have.
With neither team able to break the deadlock, despite having numerous chances to find the net, the match went to penalties.
Here, South Africa's captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the star with four saves in the shootout.
Nigeria vs South Africa – Super Eagles dominate Bafana
The Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana have faced off 14 times since their inaugural encounter in October 1992 during a FIFA World Cup qualifier.
In their first meeting, the Super Eagles dominated with a 4-0 victory. Throughout their history, the Super Eagles have secured seven wins, suffered two defeats, and played to a draw in five matches against Bafana Bafana.
Their 15th meeting will be a semi-final clash at the AFCON 2024 at the Stade de la Paix, Bouaké on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.