Bafana’s Nelson Mandela Challenge game against Nigeria is more than just an international friendly for the South African national team and its fans
It is without a doubt that coach Gordon Igesund has changed Bafana Bafana's style of play for the better. The national team is playing with pride and confidence under Igesund, but we need not get ahead of ourselves.
Because of this improvement, our South African fans have been pleading for Bafana to play against tougher opponents from the African continent, and it can't get any better than the Super Eagles.
When these two nations, South Africa and Nigeria meet, the hype is closer to that of a derby match, particularly when you consider the large Nigerian population in this country.
I walked around the streets of Soweto and Johannesburg recently, and one could conclude the Bafana-Nigeria game is in Gauteng, because of the buzz created by our Nigerian and South African brothers. These avid fans will be travelling all the way to Durban to support their team.
The fact that Bafana’s only win against Nigeria came in the same competition back in 2004, makes this clash an enticing one. For that reason, both Nigerians and South Africans are anticipating a mouth-watering encounter at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
This Mandela Challenge doesn’t only mark the celebration of former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy, but it will also help Bafana do well in the Fifa rankings, should they win it.
Not only that, but it will also be a good preparation for Bafana’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Botswana next month. Perhaps, big opposition like Nigeria would give our boys a morale boost and motivate them to give their all in their final Group A match.
It seems the majority of our fans have given up on Bafana’s chances of making it into the third round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. However it is not over until the fat lady sings, especially with Ethiopia facing CAR away from home in the final match. I am optimistic that a win for Bafana against Nigeria will inspire us to believe again.
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