JOHANNESBURG – Nigerian legend Jay Jay Okocha is anticipating next weekend’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between his country’s national team and Bafana Bafana to be a humdinger.
“Everyone knows that there's always pride at stake and that always translates into a great game. That’s why I think it will be an interesting encounter,” he said yesterday.
Okocha is in Joburg for the weekend on a Bundesliga/StarSat legends tour that will see him engaged in a number of activities.
With Nigeria top of the table in Group E of the qualifiers for next year’s tournament that will be hosted by Cameroon, Okocha believes his countrymen have what it takes to seal the deal soon.
But he acknowledges that Bafana will be hard to beat.
“It could be that whoever wins this match will have one leg in the Africa Nations Cup, so that adds to the excitement of the match. I can’t wait to watch the game but it is hard to say who will win because Bafana will be confident after winning in Nigeria.”
He is happy with the strides being made by his countrymen, though, and foresees them going from strength to strength.
“Of course our team is fairly young but we can now see some level of consistency. These players have grown after the World Cup (in Russia) and the experience they got there is very good. Also there is a great transition in that the senior players are passing on their experience to the younger ones who got some good exposure at the World Cup.
“We are moving in the right direction and we stand a good chance of having a great national team again.”
Whether he is right will become evident at the FNB Stadium next Saturday when the Super Eagles take on a Bafana outfit who have blown hot and cold in the qualifiers that they kick-started with a maiden official victory against Nigeria.
Instead of building on that win, Bafana were held at home by Libya, then hammered the Seychelles at home, only to draw with the part-timers from the Indian Ocean Island.
Which Stuart Baxter-coached Bafana pitches up for the match next Saturday is anybody’s guess, though you can bet Okocha and his countrymen will be hoping it is the one that played Libya or the Seychelles in their own backyard.