Coach Stuart Baxter expects Nigeria to be made of sterner stuff than recent opposition when South Africa head into Wednesday’s Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal showdown.
Bafana Bafana meet the Super Eagles in Africa’s biggest football showpiece for the third time, with Nigeria winning each of the previous encounters.
Baxter’s men had the upper hand when these sides met en route to Egypt 2019 – winning in Nigeria before playing out a draw in the reverse fixture.
Despite their triumph over hosts Egypt in the Round of 16 thanks to Thembinkosi Lorch’s 85th minute strike, Baxter anticipates a hard-hitting encounter against Gernot Rohr’s team.
“The most important thing for us is to remain very humble. If you look back not so long ago, we would be overconfident going into the game against Nigeria,” he told media during Tuesday’s pre-match conference.
“The Nigerian team is still one of the powerhouses in the continent. Yes, we have done well as Nigeria in the past but the question for us is that do we think the way we’ve played Nigeria in the past does work quite well?
“We should be under no illusion that Nigeria are one of the best teams on the continent. They are a stable team and this squad has been together for quite a while and it will be a massive but difficult game for us.”
Baxter also revealed his side’s biggest undoing in the championship and has assured fans they are working on rectifying it before the clash at Cairo International Stadium.
“South Africans are naturally mobile and good with the ball at speed. Naturally, they are not well organised,” he continued.
“We’ll try as much as possible to get that balance of being well organised and still not inhibiting them in their attacking play.
“We’ll keep working hard on that and I’m sure that’s no great secret.”
South Africa haven’t managed to score more than a single goal in each of their last eight Africa Cup of Nations games. They have scored only two goals in Afcon 2019, fewer than each of the other quarterfinalists.