Ahmed Musa of Nigeria is set to clash with South Africa’s Player of the Year, Thembinkosi Lorch, as the two teams face-off in their African Cup of Nation quarter-final thriller tonight.     Montage: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)
Ahmed Musa of Nigeria is set to clash with South Africa’s Player of the Year, Thembinkosi Lorch, as the two teams face-off in their African Cup of Nation quarter-final thriller tonight. Montage: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)
Stuart Baxter, head coach of South Africa during a press conference. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Stuart Baxter, head coach of South Africa during a press conference. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

CAIRO – Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr concedes that Bafana Bafana are favourites for tonight’s big Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final but his South African counterpart Stuart Baxter is having none of that.

“The Nigerians are one of the best teams on the continent,” Baxter said.

“They have been for a long time. They have been a powerhouse of African football for a long time. One win (over Egypt on Saturday) doesn’t make us favourites.

“Gernot would love to have the tags of underdogs. I don’t think that he is fooling anybody to tell you the truth.

“We will go into the game as we do every game. When we play well, and find the balance between good organisation and still get on the ball and play with pace, we can give everybody in this continent a good game.

“One of our players, Bongani Zungu, was eight years old when South Africa last won an Afcon game on soil so to go from that to beating the host nation the way we did is massive. So we will respect Nigeria, but we will not fear them.”

Stuart Baxter addresses players during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals South Africa training session at the Aero Sports Complex, Cairo. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Baxter added that it was important for him to remain humble. “South Africa don’t need a coach who gets so carried away with himself that he can’t think on the bench; you have to make it a day at the office so you can see things happening in the game. You can change things in the game and still make decisions.”

South Africa, who hosted the Afcon in 2013, beat Nigeria away in their opening match of the Afcon qualifiers in June 2017 - one of Rohr’s first games in charge of Nigeria - and were held 1-1 in the return.

Malik Said