It’s an encounter they always anticipate with glee, an opportunity to show their ‘cocky’ adversaries who is the boss.
And with the Africa Cup of Nations dishing up yet another tie with South Africa, some Nigerians are already looking beyond Wednesday’s semi-final, confident that the Super Eagles will contest yet another final.
“Here in Lagos, and the country over, excitement is building up and social media has tagged the game the ‘amapiano derby’ because they say whoever wins will be crowned kings of amapiano, although we know who the true kings of amapiano are,” said Udoka Njoku, a sports anchor at Nigeria’sNews Central TV.
That is only friendly social media banter, he says, with the true football fans taking matters much more seriously.
‘The match will be as juicy as ever’
“Of course, this is another opportunity for both sides to show their prowess in the tournament and the match will be as juicy as ever. Personally, I feel both teams are strong and it is hard to tell what will happen.
“But the majority of fans here are very positive and are assured that Nigeria will edge South Africa. They believe the Super Eagles will carry the day.”
Their belief is not without basis. After all, Nigeria always beats South Africa at the biennial continental showpiece.
On the three occasions that the two countries have met at the tournament finals, it has been the Super Egales who reigned victorious. And out in Lagos they would no doubt be waxing lyrical about the semi-final clash between the two countries from back in 2000 when Nigeria co-hosted the tournament with Ghana.
It was the last time Bafana Bafana reached the penultimate stage of the event and Nigeria made easy work of the hitherto highly heralded South Africans who were looking to reach the final for a third successive time in as many appearances. Tijani Babangida helped himself to a brace in the 2-0 victory, scoring one of the goals in the opening minute of the match.
Two years later the Super Eagles beat Bafana in Tunisia – a 4-0 drubbing in the group stage – and they made it three out of three in the 2019 quarter-final via a 2-1 win. No wonder, then, that they are cock-a-hoop out in Lagos – gleefully anticipating Wednesday’s match that will be played at Stade de la Paix in Bouake.
That Bafana beat Africa’s No 1-ranked nation, Morocco, does not scare them one bit as they believe that Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, Stanley Nwabali and co will be way too strong for Ronwen Williams and his teammates.