“Their guys are very fast. They are not physical like Cameroon. They are fast and can play good football"
NIGERIA are cautious of the threat Bafana Bafana possess with their speed. Odion Ighalo (pictured) went as far as to say that South Africa will offer the Super Eagles a tougher challenge than the reigning Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) champions, Cameroon did.
The Super Eagles had to muster all their strength to get past the Indomitable Lions who looked like they would eliminate Nigeria with the match going to half-time at 2-1. Ighalo levelled matters to complete his brace before Alex Iwobi scored to guide Nigeria to a 3-2 win and advance to the quarter-finals.
Tonight, at 9pm, they will take on Bafana Bafana in the last eight at Cairo International Stadium. Bafana also had a tough route to get here. Bafana had to face the hosts, Egypt, in front of a packed stadium but they were still strong enough to leave with a 1-0 win.
Ighalo, a burly forward, knows where Nigeria will be vulnerable against the team that beat them in the qualifiers of this competition. “We know that it is going to be more difficult than the game against the Cameroon,” Ighalo said. “Their guys are very fast. They are not physical like Cameroon. They are fast and can play good football. I believe that the lads will put in a good fight to make Nigeria proud. We lost to them during the qualifiers of this Afcon. That was very difficult for us to accept. Some of us were not there (including himself). We then drew in SA. But this is a tournament, it’s the quarter-finals. It’s going to be a different ball game. South Africa are better now than they were then. We are ready. We will come out and fight.”
Ighalo is a striker that Nigerians love to hate. Even though he finished as the top goalscorer in the qualifiers, and is a strong favourite to win the Golden Boot in this competition, he is a polarising figure. “I don’t pay attention to critics, I am a professional. People are bound to criticise me,” he said.