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Encore! Nigeria – South Africa rivalry renewed at World Cup qualifiers





Nigeria Super Eagles have drawn their traditional rivals, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana as the path to the 2026 World Cup was paved in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday evening. Both are in Group C.

It was breathtaking as Ivorian legend, Emmanuel Eboue picked Nigeria, the third time he dipped his hand into the Pot 1. The other teams in the group are Benin Republic, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho all of which have had encounters with the Super Eagles.

But the commonest fixture had been that of South Africa who the Super Eagles had beaten seven times in 14 encounters.  Only once had South Africa beaten Nigeria and it was in Uyo in  2017 in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.


They first met in a World Cup qualifier in 1992 and the Super Eagles won 4-o. They last met at the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. In the World Cup qualifiers, the Super Eagles had played four times against South Africa, winning three and drawing one.

The matches are:

  • 10 Oct. 1992 – Lagos: Nigeria 4-0 South Africa.
  • 16  Jan. 1993 – J’bourg: South Africa 0-0 Nigeria
  • 1 June 2008 – Abuja: Nigeria 2-0 South Africa
  • 6 Sept. 2008 – Port Elizabeth: South Africa 0-1 Nigeria

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.