INDICATIONS from the Bafana Bafana training ground in the past few days are that coach Stuart Baxter will confront Nigeria in tonight’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-final with the same team that embarrassed Egypt last weekend.
Man of the moment Thembinkosi Lorch looked sharp during the drills, and the Orlando Pirates winger is expected to maintain the momentum in the attack at the game scheduled for the Cairo International at 9pm.
Nyoso, as Lorch is affectionately known by his fans, has established good chemistry with frontmen Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba.
One of the other strong points for Bafana has been their defence where goalkeeper Ronwen Williams has proven to be maturing with every game.
The SuperSport United goalie might have conceded two goals during the group stages, but the Nigerian strike force will still have their work cut out trying to breach the watertight rearguard marshalled by captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
The Super Eagles attack has lately been thriving on sharp-shooter, Odion Ighalo, who missed both outings against South Africa during the qualifying campaign.
Speedy winger Ahmed Musa and Arsenal star Alex Iwobi also pose great danger, seeing how they influenced Nigeria’s comeback win – the 3-2 that sent defending champions Cameroon packing in the last 16.
Even Williams warned that tonight’s clash with the 2013 champions, Nigeria, was going to be a tough one this time around.
“We took four points off them in the qualifying campaign, so they’ll obviously want to rectify that,” said Williams, who kept his first clean sheet in the Bafana jersey in 90 minutes in their 1-0 win over Egypt.
“We must just go out there, enjoy the moment and continue with what we have been doing.”
Added the 27-year-old goalie: “We must focus on our strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses. And I’m certain that the coach will come up with a grand plan, the same way he did against Egypt.
“Ours is just to be mentally prepared. They are beatable and we’ve done it before and we can do it again. Let’s stay positive, you’ll never know in football.”
The reigning PSL Goalkeeper of the Season is also relishing the moment since he wrestled the No.1 gloves from Darren Keet of Bidvest Wits.
“No one expected me to play any game at Afcon, but I’ve been in the right frame of mind throughout this year, and I’ve been telling my family and friends that I’m going to be number one at this tournament. I don’t get distracted by negative things, but I choose to remain positive.
“This has been the biggest achievement for me so far, but there is still a lot to play for,” he added.
- The winner of tonight’s match will next face either Ivory Coast or Algeria, who meet in the other quarter-final tomorrow at Suez Stadium at 6pm.