The Bafana Bafana of South Africa claimed a historic victory by defeating Nigeria’s Super Eagles for the first time in a competitive fixture. South Africa deservedly emerged 2-0 victors in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo on Saturday.
Bafana Bafana, in their first match under new coach Stuart Baxter, put in a superb display marked by a resilient defence and speed on the counter attack, with second-half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau taking them to a famous victory at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
Nigeria enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the early stages and they created the first clear chance in the 11th minute when Wilfred Ndidi picked up on a loose ball on the edge of the box and sent a left-footed volley off target.
Midway through the first half the Super Eagles really should have claimed the lead, with Kelechi Iheanacho providing a low pass across the face of goal to find Oghenekaro Etebo, but his effort flashed wide of the far post.
South Africa settled into the match, but struggled to pose much of an attacking threat. However, they almost broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute when Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi dropped Tebogo Langerman’s cross and Themba Zwane reacted quickly to the loose ball, only to hit the upright with his toe-poked shot.
Bafana Bafana found themselves defending for most of the early stages in the second half, but on 54 minutes they claimed the lead through Rantie, who met Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s cross and beat Akepyi at his near post with a downward header.
With 20 minutes of regulation time remaining the visitors should have doubled their lead, with a counter attack opening up a chance for Zwane, who again beat Akpeyi only to see his effort rebound off the near post.
On 78 minutes Nigeria almost forced an equaliser as Ahmed Musa and Etebo threatened in the penalty area and South Africa needed Dean Furman to make a desperate clearance from almost under his own crossbar.
Yet the visitors’ second goal arrived in the 81st minute, with Keagan Dolly providing a perfectly weighted pass for substitute Tau, who sprinted clear, rounded Akpeyi and turned the ball into an empty net to end the game as a contest.