Despite the injury cloud hanging over his team, South Africa coach Stuart Baxter insists Bafana Bafana will be looking to pull off another terrific result in their Cameroon 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Super Eagles at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.
Key players Aubrey Ngoma, Tiyani Mabunda, Lebogang Manyama, Tokelo Rantie, Andile Jali, Rivaldo Coetzee and Eric Mathoho are nursing injuries and look doubtful for the clash.
Englishman Baxter, 63, is desperate to end Bafana’s 25-year-old winless run against the Eagles to prove his coaching credentials.
The Southern Africans have never won in their 11 competitive games against Nigeria since their 4-0 pounding by the three-time African champions in their USA ’94 World Cup qualifier in Lagos on October 10, 1992.
Nigeria progressed to win six other competitive fixtures against South Africa, with both sides settling for draws in four meetings. South Africa only defeated the Eagles 2-1 in a friendly affair in Johannesburg on November 17, 2004, with Baxter, who was their coach, dishing out instructions from the dugout.
In both teams’ last meeting in a competitive affair, Bafana grabbed a 2-2 draw at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on November 19, 2014 to end the Eagles’ Equatorial Guinea 2015 Africa Cup of Nations’ qualification dreams.
Baxter, who admitted that Saturday’s match would be a tough one for his side, is backing the players for the game to step up to the plate, in spite of the Eagles’ good run of form under their German manager Gernot Rohr.
“We need a positive result in Nigeria and we have capabilities to hurt them,” Baxter, who is expected to arrive in Uyo with his troops on Wednesday, was quoted by the South Africa Football Association’s official website as saying on Tuesday.
“When we get there, we should be ready. There is no perfect world but I have positive belief. I would have loved to have a full fit squad ahead of travelling to Nigeria but you don’t get a perfect situation in football.”
He added, “We are going to be a big nuisance to them (Nigeria); we want to be a nightmare they don’t want.”
Rohr also admitted that the match would be a difficult game for his team.
The former Gabon coach told reporters in Uyo on Tuesday, “The game will be difficult. It will be a big challenge to beat the South Africans. It will be difficult with the young players that we have.
“Our captain Mikel Obi and our first choice goalkeeper (Carl Ikeme) are out of the match.”