If South Africa’s win over Egypt was an upset, victory over Nigeria will be even more significant for Bafana Bafana, Defender Thulani Hlatshwayo has suggested.
A Thembikosi Lorch 85th minute goal gave Bafana, perhaps, their biggest victory since clinching the AFCON title in 1996 and this team led by Thulani are daring to dream big.
Ahead of Wednesday’s quarter-final clash against Nigeria, Thulani truly, captured the importance of the game, pedigree of the opponent and history of their rivalry.
“We’ve now made it into the AFCON quarter-finals for the 6th time in our history, this gives us an opportunity to really chase our dream to win,” he told SAFA’s official website.
“Our next game is against our biggest rival team, Nigeria. We know playing them will be tough but we have a clear understanding of our mission, and we’ll give it our all once again.
“This is an opportunity for us to regain trust from the fans, to truly discover our identity and have confidence in our capabilities. As captain, I’m confident in the team and what we can achieve.
“There’s a lot of pressure on us to perform well, therefore it is our intention to do our best. It is no longer just about participating but about earning our place on the greatest stage in Africa.
“Whatever the outcome, this is only the beginning for us. I believe that this is a new era and opportunity to do well and participate more in global football competitions.
“The hope for this tournament is to bring the confidence South Africans once had in us when the team won the tournament in 1996,” Hlatshwayo said.
Previously, South Africa and Nigeria met twice in the Africa Cup of Nations; the Super Eagles winning on both occasions, including a 2-0 victory in the semi-final.
While Nigeria has had the edge on head to head in their 13 meetings [6 wins, 5 draws, 2 losses], South Africa are yet to lose to the Super Eagles in their last five encounters.
Current Head Coach, Stuart Baxter being the only Bafana Head Coach to guide the side to a win against Nigeria.
He scored a major point in the AFCON 2019 qualifiers when South Africa defeated Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo, two years ago.
The next meeting between the sides will be staged at the Cairo International Stadium on July 10.