CAIRO – Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr played some subtle mind games ahead of Wednesday night's Afcon quarterfinal against South Africa in Cairo.
He said Bafana Bafana must be favourites after beating hosts Egypt in the Round of 16.
The German-born coach said: "When you beat a good team like Egypt you are full of confidence. When you beat the favourites, you are favourites yourself. I don’t play mind games but I’m realistic. South Africa performed well against Egypt, they played in Cairo and know the city and stadium, but I think we will be ready," said Rohr.
Wednesday night's game takes place at the Cairo International Stadium (start at 21h00) with the winner playing either Algeria or the Ivory Coast in the semifinal.
Despite his comments, Rohr does admit Nigeria also had a positive game against Cameroon in the Round of 16.
"I expect a good match against South Africa. The strength of our team is the fighting spirit we have and we are confident despite the fact that it is not going to be easy. It is a match between two organised teams that know each other well."
Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo had these views on the clash.
"We have to do our job because this is going to be a tough game. Against Cameroon, it was a difficult game and on Wednesday it is going to be another tough one. We are ready and we are going to show it although we know this is going to be a difficult game against South Africa, a very fast team."
Meanwhile, South African coach Stuart Baxter has said the team will remain humble and won’t be overconfident going into the game.
"We played well against them before but we know this is a totally different match. Hopefully, we will be mentally and physically ready. Beating Egypt with the crowd behind them was massive, but we worked and we did it. We can do the same again against Nigeria.
"One game doesn’t make us the favourites, but we go to every game with a chance to win. We respect Nigeria but we don't fear them."
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams added: "Our performance at first wasn’t satisfying and we knew we could play better. We worked hard every day and we needed the fans' support.
The positive criticism we had pushed us to move forward and here we are. We worked very hard and we know we could be better. As you saw in the last game (against Egypt) we were much better. So far, so good."
African News Agency (ANA)