Nigeria have had Bafana Bafana’s number at previous Afcon tournaments

South Africa’s Bongani Zungu is challenged by Peter Etebo of Nigeria during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final in Cairo

South Africa’s Bongani Zungu is challenged by Peter Etebo of Nigeria during their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final in Cairo. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Feb 6, 2024


As Nigeria's Super Eagles and South Africa's Bafana Bafana reignite their titanic rivalry on Wednesday evening in Ivory Coast, the statistics from their past Africa Cup of Nations clashes make grim reading for Mzansi fans.

In the first of Wednesday's two Afcon semi-finals, Nigeria play South Africa. It will be only the second time the two countries clash in an Afcon semi-final round.

In their only previous semi-final clash, Nigeria sent South Africa packing with an emphatic 2-0 win in February 2000 in Lagos. Since Nigeria were a co-hosts, they enjoyed home ground advantage. At the time, Nigeria weighed in heavily on the 12th-man dynamic with the masses — all 60, 000 of them.

Nigeria's hero in that match 24 years ago was the Ajax Amsterdam striker Tijani Babangida, whose first-half brace was enough for the Super Eagles to reach the final, at the expense of South Africa.

Bafana Bafana's squad at the time included several international stars like Andre Arendse (Fulham), Lucas Radebe (Leeds United), Mark Fish (Bolton Wanderers), Quinton Fortune (Manchester United), Helman Mkhalele (Ankaragücü) and Shaun Bartlett (FC Zürich).

This clash was the first time the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana clashed at AFCON and in subsequent years two more clashes followed (2004 — Nigeria 4-0 South Africa; 2019 — Nigeria 2-1 South Africa). By this time, after three AFCON matches Nigeria had a full house with three wins, eight goals, and one against.

Their 2004 clash was a group stage match in Tunisia and South Africa were trounced 4-0.

Nigeria has massive off-the-pitch problems on the eve of the match after sending three players home because of disciplinary issues.

One of the goalscorers was the great Jay-Jay Okocha, a legend of African football. It was fitting that the goal he scored was the 1,000th goal in the history of the African Nations Cup. The Bolton Wanderers midfielder was presented with a special award.

In July 2019, Nigeria sneaked into the Afcon semi-finals after defeating South Africa 2-1 in a quarter-final clash.

After Nigeria opened the scoring in the first half, South Africa's Bongani Zungu scored with a header from Percy Tau's free-kick, but it was ruled out for offside.

Morocca match referee Rédouane Jiyed then consulted with Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the goal was awarded to make it 1-1 with 19 minutes left on the clock.

Bafana lost concentration in the closing stages of the game, and they were punished by Troost-Ekong. An unmarked Troost-Ekong fired home from second-half substitute Simon's corner-kick in the 89th minute, after Williams failed to claim the ball, to seal Nigeria's 2-1 victory over South Africa, who were coached by Stuart Baxter at the time.

Assistant coach Mkhalele, Tau and Williams will again be in the trenches on Wednesday and hopefully, they can turn the tables on Nigeria this time.

IOL Sport