Sport

BREAKING: Etafia, former Nigeria goalkeeper now based in South Africa, says advantage not totally on Super Eagles’ side

Retired Nigerian goalkeeper Greg Etafia who is now based in South Africa has reportedly remarked that the upper hand the Super Eagles have over Bafana Bafana will not give the Nigeria team an edge in their duel on Wednesday.

Etafia had four international appearances with Nigeria in 2003 when he was with Plateau United before joining South Africa’s Moroka Swallows.

According toSowetan, a South African newspaper, the experience that South African players have gained in CAF Champions League will work in Bafana Bafana’s favour when they face the Super Eagles on Wednesday in a semi-final duel of the Africa Cup of Nations at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké, d’Ivoire.

The South African team is largely composed of players from Mamelodi Sundowns, winners of the inaugural African Football League.

Although in head-to-head clashes, the Super Eagles have the upper hand, the retired Etafia cautioned that the Nigerian side should not rely so much on this.

Etafia believes the experience Bafana players – with the majority of them playing for Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League – will make it difficult for Nigeria.

“Nigeria always has the upper hand in terms of tournaments. The last time I remember South Africa beat them was when Percy Tau scored in 2017 with Stuart Baxter as a coach [2019 Afcon qualifier],” Etafia said on Monday.

“The last time Nigeria won against South Africa was in 2019, so they always have the upper hand in terms of tournament football. I can’t remember SA beating Nigeria in the tournaments, but in football anything can happen.

“This Bafana team, they are looking good.

They are organised, more especially the majority of the team are coming from one team that has been doing well in African football, which is very interesting. But it’s going to be a very good game with the best defensive teams playing. We will see how it goes.”

Etafia said the reason Nigeria has always enjoyed playing against Bafana is because most of their players play in big leagues in Europe and face a lot of big games, which helps them.

“The good thing about the SA team now is that the majority of the side have been playing in the Champions League and they have the ability to take the pressure, which is very important.

In a tournament like Afcon, you need that calmness. That’s why you saw Ronwen Williams show in the quarterfinal and that’s the only advantage,” he said.

“Both sides have been doing well in the tournament, so you have both sides who have experience in the African Champions League and you have the other side who have experience in European football but now they are back playing in African land.

They know how to manage the game. At the end of the day, whoever takes the opportunity will have a chance to win the game.”