Bafana rise above travel woes to frustrate Nigeria in Uyo

Nigeria collected a third consecutive 1-1 draw in Group C of the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers after sharing the spoils with South Africa in Uyo.

After their long journey to Nigeria, which lasted over 30 hours, the Bafana Bafana team may feel that they had a chance to win the match as Themba Zwane found the target in favour of the visitors in the first half before Fisayo Dele-Bashiru struck back in the second.

Cheered by thousands who had flocked to the stadium, the Super Eagles had a brighter opening, pinning Bafana Bafana into their own half inside the first five minutes as the Hugo Broos-led team struggled to settle.

In the seventh minute, Fulham midfielder Alex Iwobi spotted danger-man Ademola Lookman on the right unmarked. The Atalanta winger managed to cut in, but despite getting the angle right, his shot sailed way over the bar.

It was a wake-up call the visitors needed; five minutes later, 2022/23 Premier Soccer League player of the year Teboho Mokoena unleashed a rocket from 20-yards which Stanley Nwabali-who was playing in Nigeria for the first time, failed to keep hold. Iqraam Rayners' follow-up was stopped by the assistant referee's offside flag. 

Al Ahly attacker Percy Tau was a problem for the Nigerians thanks to his pace and skill. Raphael Onyedika had to foul the winger 20 yards from the goal. Mokoena took it, but was unfortunate to see his effort kissing the outside of the crossbar and eventually bounced to safety.


Like old wine, Mshishi gets better with age

Bafana eventually grew in confidence as time went by. They were eventually rewarded in the 30th minute after some sleek passing involving Themba Zwane ended with the ball on the feet of Kamohelo Sithole. The midfielder's precise pass found the Mamelodi Sundowns in the danger zone and the 34-year-old got past two defenders before firing home – his 12 goal for Bafana.

The scoreline could have easily been 2-0 three minutes later, but Elias Mokwana lacked the composure to beat stranded Nwabali from six yards out.

The South Africa miss could have proved costly on the other end. Lookman, who had been kept quiet by Khuliso Mudau, managed to cross the ball from the left, managing to find the unmarked Paul Onuachu. The big man, who was unmarked, forced Ronwen William into a fine save in what was Nigeria's only shot on target in the first half.

Whatever coach Finidi George told his players during the break worked because his team came back hungry for an equaliser.


Mvala turned inside out with Dele-Bashiru giving Wiliams no chance

The home fans waited for just 35 seconds after the pause to have a massive moment to deafen the skies with their celebratory chants. The Bafana defense was caught napping, and a good pass from Iwobi found Fisayo Dele-Bashiru in the box. 

The 24-year-old Watford midfielder easily turned Mothobi Mvala, giving Williams no chance with his shot from 16 yards into the far corner of the goal.

Dele-Bashiru's strike reduced the tempo of the match with the teams resorting to cautious play. Even during that period, it was Bafana Bafana who looked dangerous with their 

In the 71st minute, South Africa survived a scare; a seemingly harmless move ended with the ball in the 12-yard area. Onuachu fumbled but fortunately, the ball fell on Iwobi's feet, but the former Arsenal attacker shot straight at the waiting Williams.

With 15 minutes to go, AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze was slipped into the danger zone which put him one-on-one with Williams. The former managed to beat the keeper, but the ball was cleared from the line by Siyabonga Ngezana much to the disappointment of the home fans.

Lookman could have won it late for the Super Eagles, but his stinging effort from the right was parried out for an unfruitful corner. Despite a late flurry of attacks by the hosts, Bafana managed to stand tall to get a vital point away.

Lesotho, surprisingly, lead Group C with five points, one more than Rwanda, Benin and South Africa respectively, while Nigeria are fifth with three, one more than Zimbabwe who are at the bottom.

The Super Eagles play Benin in their next fixture while Bafana Bafana host Zimbabwe.

Bafana rise above travel woes to frustrate Nigeria in Uyo
Willis Sob

Willis Sob is an experienced journalist who has been in the game since 2009, covering major assignments around the continent.
His hunger for African football is unmatched, always getting the best angles and facts to feed the fans and quench their thirst.