The past days have been filled with an intense build-up to what could easily pass as one of the most important games ever between South Africa and Nigeria at the senior level.
This will be the 14th meeting between both sides since the maiden game played in Lagos almost three decades ago.
While a pack-crowd is almost a sure bet at the FNB Stadium fondly referred to as the Soccer City, PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at five other things To Expect As Eagles Battle Bafana Bafana In Johannesburg.
No barren draw
The result of Saturday’s game may go either way as both teams are desperate for results that would seal their place at next year’s AFCON in Cameroon.
That said, nothing suggests that game at the Soccer City will end without any goal from either side. In as much as the South Africans have an edge defensively, going forward, Nigeria looks like the better side with the likes of Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho and even Henry Onyekuru all capable of getting the goals for Nigeria. With as much as N9 million already promised per goal by the Delta State Governor, many are keen to see just how much the Eagles will rake in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Many players have had cause to come on board to play for either the South African or the Nigerian national teams. From the roster of players invited, there is the room for at least one new debutant to get a chance in Saturday’s crunch clash.
One likely candidate for a maiden appearance is Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze who has been in top for for his La Liga team in recent weeks; a development that aided his call-up in the first place.
If indeed Rohr considers the youngster for action at any point in Saturday’s game, Chukwueze will be doing so at aged 19 years, 5 months, 26 days.
Iheanacho to return
Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho was left on the bench all through the two games against Libya and with the Super Eagles getting the needed results against the Mediterranean Knights home and away, Gernot Rohr’s decision cannot be faulted.
However, going into Saturday’s game, Iheanacho is not only favoured to get a chance against South Africa but he is been touted to partner Ahmed Musa in the Eagles’ attack, hopefully, he will make up for the misses he recorded in the first leg in Uyo against the South Africans.
Physical battle form South Africans
Bafana Bafana does not come to mind when you think of sleek-attacking football, they are better known for their physicality. In their quest to put the Eagles to the sword on Saturday, it is expected that they would want to muscle their way, but the Eagles are also expected to stand and take them to pound for pound.
Baxter vs Rohr tactics
The men leading the South African and Nigerian teams, Stuart Baxter and Gernot Rohr, have a lot to do if their teams will get the needed results in Saturday’s encounter in Johannesburg.
So many key decisions are in their hands; hence their tactical prowess is expected to be expressed in full in the make-or-mar clash.
Whether they would get it right or not is yet to be seen.