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AFCON 2019 Quarterfinals Preview: Nigeria vs South Africa

Nigeria will square off with South Africa in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-final encounter at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday.

Nigeria will square off with South Africa in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-final encounter at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday.

Kick off is at 21:00hrs CAT.

Nigeria progressed from last 16 after beating defending champions Cameroon 3-2 on the weekend while South Africa set up the clash after their unimagined 1-0 win over hosts Egypt.

The Super Eagles have progressed beyond the quarterfinals in their last five AFCON appearances and head into the Wednesday clash with an impressive record of three wins in their last four games.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, who is likely to retain most of the players that defeated Cameroon, believes the level of the competition is about higher concentration.

“At this stage of the competition, it is important to have total concentration and avoid little mistakes,” said the German.

“I hope we can produce better performance from our previous games and also progress into the semi-final,” he added.

Odion Ighalo is likely to retain his place in attack having scored three goals in Egypt with Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa expected to provide support.

For South Africa, they will be hoping to maintain the same positive mentality that they showed at the Round of 16 when they eliminated favourites Egypt last Saturday.

It is a huge match which has elicited lots of talking points among soccer fans with most not expecting the Bafana Bafana to storm into the semi-finals, as they have been inconsistent at AFCON with two wins in four matches.

However, striker Lebo Mothiba who set up the winning goal by Thembinkosi Lorch against the Pharaohs said Bafana Bafana needs to maintain 100 percent focus against Nigeria.

“In the match against Egypt, everyone gave 100 percent effort and focus and now we need to keep that going. The win over Egypt galvanised the spirits and we are all looking forward to the next game against Nigeria. We need that positive mentality. The coach has insisted that we should maintain that positive attitude,” he said, adding that the secret to success was following the coach’s instructions.

“The coach knows what we need to do against Nigeria. The boss is in charge of that, we will follow his instructions. For the match against Egypt, the coach really pushed us and we are ready for Nigeria and we want to give everything.”

The Scottish tactician, Stuart Baxter, will be relying on defender Thulani Hlatshwayo in his starting line-up to provide cover at the back after his superb performance against Egypt while Percy Tau and Mothiba leading the attack.

Nigeria have a 6-1 advantage with four draws from 11 previous matches against South Africa. The Eagles have won the two previous AFCON meetings between both teams, including a 4-0 victory during the group stage of the 2004 edition.

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