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“They Know Me And I Know Them” Nwabali Speaks On Challenges Of Facing South Africa –

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“They Know Me And I Know Them” Nwabali Speaks On Challenges Of Facing South Africa -

Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, who plays his club football in South Africa, and who was thrown into the forefront as number one by the Super Eagles at this competition despite only one previous cap, said he would have a sweet day stopping all efforts by the Bafana Bafana and then seeing them shunted to the third-place match.

 

“I know them and they know me. It will be an interesting evening in Bouake.”

He will be the final shot stopper in what promises to be a titanic battle of Nigeria and South Africa on Wednesday.

He will have a good covering in a stingy rearguard, marshalled by on-field captain William Ekong.

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Ekong not only scored the winning goal when Nigeria last faces South Africa at an Africa Cup of Nations’ contest five years ago, he is again expected to provide all the answers to a number of tricky questions by the opposition in their last four matches, and looks as solid as the Berlin Wall at the height of its glory.

Supporting the field marshal are Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Zaidu Sanusi and Olaoluwa Aina,  the attack-minded wingback.

Ranked 42nd in the world and 12th in Africa (as against South Africa’s global ranking of 66th and 12th in the world), the Super Eagles are unbeaten in 10 competitive matches over the past 10 months, and even achieved a rare win in a friendly game when they edged Mozambique in Portugal in October 2023.

As far as the Africa Cup of Nations go, Nigeria is aiming for a fourth star on its crest, while the Bafana (Boys) are only aiming for a second triumph, following their win on home soil 28 years ago. Even that win has always been downplayed by Nigerians as it happened in the absence of Cup holders Nigeria, who were stopped from travelling to the Rainbow Nation by military strongman Sani Abacha following a spat with President Nelson Mandela over the execution of environmental rights activist Ken Saro Wiwa and some others in November 1995.

 

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The first meeting between both countries was on 10th October 1992, when Richard Owubokiri opened the floodgates of goals in a 4-0 win for Nigeria at the National Stadium, Lagos. Rashidi Yekini scored a brace. It was a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying match. The return leg at the FBN Stadium in Johannesburg ended scoreless.

 

Nigeria spanked South Africa 2-0 in the semi-finals of the 2000 AFCON they co-hosted with Ghana, with Tijani Babangida scoring both goals, and four years later, an Eagles’ team wounded by Morocco in its first match descended heavily on the Bafana, beating the latter 4-0 in a group phase match in Monastir, Tunisia.

 

Four years ago, in the AFCON quarter-finals, the Eagles edged the Bafana 2-1 in Cairo, with the goals scored by Samuel Chukwueze and William Ekong. Both players will be in Bouake with Ekong to lead the squad on the field and Chukwueze likely to play some part in the proceedings.

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NIGERIA, SOUTH AFRICA IN HISTORY

  • 10 Oct 1992: Nigeria 4 South Africa 0 (1994 WCq, Lagos)
  • 16 Jan 1993: South Africa 0 Nigeria 0 (1994 WCq, Johannesburg)
  • 10 Feb 2000: Nigeria 2 South Africa 0 (AFCON semi-final, Lagos)
  • 31 Jan 2004: Nigeria 4 South Africa 0 (AFCON finals, Monastir, Tunisia)
  • 17 Nov 2004: South Africa 2 Nigeria 1 (International Friendly, Durban)
  • 1 June 2008: Nigeria 2 South Africa 0 (2010 FIFA WCq, Abuja)
  • 6 Sept 2008: South Africa 0 Nigeria 1 (2010 FIFA WCq, Port Elizabeth)
  • 14 Aug 2013: South Africa 0 Nigeria 2 (International Friendly, Johannesburg)
  • 10 Sept 2014: South Africa 0 Nigeria 0 (2015 AFCON qualifier, Johannesburg)
  • 19 Nov 2014: Nigeria 2 South Africa 2 (2015 AFCON qualifier, Uyo)
  • 29 Mar 2015: South Africa 1 Nigeria 1 (International Friendly, Durban)
  • 10 June 2017: Nigeria 0 South Africa 2 (2019 AFCON qualifier, Uyo)
  • 17 Nov 2018: South Africa 1 Nigeria 1 (2019 AFCON qualifier, Johannesburg)
  • 10 July 2019: Nigeria 2 South Africa 1 (2019 AFCON q-final, Cairo)

 

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.

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Liberia, Eswatini hold upper hand in AFCON 2025 preliminary qualifiers –

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Liberia, Eswatini Hold Upper Hand In AFCON 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers -

After commanding victories in the first leg matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, qualifiers, Chad, Liberia, and Eswatini find themselves in advantageous positions as they gear up for the return fixtures scheduled for Tuesday.

As the second leg of the preliminary fixtures approach, all eyes will be on these teams as they vie for their coveted spots in the group phase of the qualifiers, with the hopes of making their mark on the continental stage.

Chad emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritius, joining Liberia and Eswatini in the lead after their impressive triumphs earlier last week.

Liberia secured a 2-0 victory against Djibouti, while Eswatini displayed their dominance with a 3-0 win over Somalia.

The second leg promises to be fiercely contested, particularly for Chad, who will face a challenging encounter against Mauritius on the latter’s home turf.

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Coach Kevin Nicaise’s players are keen to defend their slender lead and secure their spot in the next phase of the qualifiers but the trainer admits they have an arduous task.

“We are far from perfect, far from being a top team in the world. We are in the construction phase. There are still things to work on and improve,” coach Nicaise said after their first-leg win.

“It is not overnight that we will be a top team in the world, we are aware of that, however we are working hard with the group and the staff to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, Liberia will host Djibouti, aiming to build on their first-leg success and seal their progression to the next round.

Eswatini will host Somalia with confidence, seeking to maintain their winning momentum and secure passage to the next stage of the tournament.

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South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe will also face off in what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, following their goalless draw in the first leg.

With both teams eager for victory, the match promises to be a thrilling battle for supremacy.

-CAF

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Liberia and Eswatini took commanding leads in their respective Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, preliminary round ties after claiming impressive away victories on Wednesday.

Liberia captain Murphy Dorley scored one of two first-half goals as the Lone Stars defeated hosts Djibouti 2-0 in the opening leg in  Marrakech.

Mohammed Sangare broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 23 minutes before Dorley coolly slotted home Sebastian Teclar’s cross 12 minutes later.

Djibouti struggled to lay a glove on their more illustrious opponents as the Lone Star side kept them at bay to take two away goals into next week’s second leg in Monrovia.

Eswatini were also celebrating after demolishing Somalia 3-0 in the Moroccoan  city of El Jadida to put one foot in the group stage qualifiers.

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Striker Sabelo Ndzinisa was the hero, netting twice either side of Felicio Figuareido’s 40th minute opener for the visitors.

Somalia now face an uphill battle to qualify when they travel to the Mbombela Stadium in the South African city of Nelspruit for the return on March 26th.

The opening leg victories give Liberia and Eswatini a huge advantage heading into the second legs as they target a place in the group stage on the road to next year’s finals in Morocco.

Back from the locker room, Somalia still couldn’t play its game.

Worse, Eswatini widened the gap with Ginindza who scored his double of the evening in the 56th minute. 3-0, the score remained unchanged on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

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Victory for Eswatini which will still have to perform in the return leg to ensure its qualification for the qualifiers.

 

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Road to Morocco 2025 begins today

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Following last month’s grand closing to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire where the hosts were crowned champions for the third time, Africa’s biggest competition is now shifting its focus to the 35th edition set to be held in Morocco next year.

A total of 52 Nations will be engaged to compete for a place in the 24-nation competition.

To mark the start of the qualifiers following the draw that was held in Cairo on 20 February 2024, eight lowest ranked nations will compete in the Preliminary Qualifiers starting on Wednesday, 20 March over a two-legged format that will decide the four nations that will join the other 44 African nations to make up the group stages of the qualifiers.

The CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 journey officially gets underway on Wednesday, 20 March with two fixtures as Somalia plays host to Eswatini, while Djibouti faces Liberia.

Two days later, Chad locks horns with Mauritius before Sao Tome and Principe takes on South Sudan.

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The return legs will conclude on Tuesday, 26 March with all matches set to take place on the day to officially decide the preliminary phase of the competition.

 

 AFCON Morocco 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers:

First Leg Fixtures:

Wednesday, 20 March 

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  • 18:00 GMT | Somalia – Eswatini
  • 22:00 GMT | Djibouti – Liberia

 

Friday, 22 March

  • 18:00 GMT | Chad – Mauritius
  • 19:00 GMT | Sao Tome and Principe – South Sudan

 

Return Leg Fixtures:

Tuesday, 26 March

  • 13:00 GMT | Eswatini – Somalia
  • 16:00 GMT | Liberia – Djibouti
  • 17:00 GMT | South Sudan – Sao Tome and Principe
  • 15:00 GMT | Mauritius – Chad
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