Bafana Bafana midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala is confident South Africa will come out with a positive result in tonight’s match against African champions Nigeria in the 19 th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge to be played at Moses Mabhida Stadium at 20h15.
Tshabalala is the most-capped Bafana Bafana player in the current squad and is well aware of the mammoth task facing the squad. In seven outings South Africa and Nigeria have met, the hosts have won only once, drawn the other and lost five times.
Bafana Bafana’s only win came in the 10 th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge back in 2004, winning 2-1 at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.
“It is going to be a tough match, we know they are a quality side but it is also an opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and make the nation proud. This is not just another game; we will be facing African champions in honour of former South African State President, Nelson Mandela, so this is a very important match for us,” said Tshabalala.
“The core of the team is here, but we also have new players which shows that our league is doing well to produce such players. I believe we will give a good account of ourselves even though we know that Nigeria is a very experienced and tough side. I am confident it will be a good game and we will be on the winning side.”
His words were echoed by midfielder Dean Furman.
“This is a very important match for us, more so it is being played on home soil. We really want to win this one, like we do with every game. The good thing is that we have shown over the last few matches that we can mix it up with the best and if it is a physical match we are ready for it, but at the same time play our own normal game,” said Furman.
“The game is going to be difficult because the Super Eagles have good players playing in Europe and all over the world, so winning will give us a great boost ahead of the2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Botswana next month. Winning brings confidence, and going to these crucial matches with confidence really helps increase the great team spirit in camp.”
Meanwhile Amazulu defender Marc van Heerden is still on cloud nine following his recent call up to the national team set up. The left back was roped in after the withdrawal of injured Innocent Mdledle of Supersport United.
“I had this feeling that my chance would come, but I could not believe it when I heard that I have been included in the squad to face Nigeria and Burkina Faso. I had to ask my girlfriend to pinch me because it felt unreal. It hasn’t really sunk in as yet but I very happy to be here,” said an elated Van Heerden.
SA v Nigeria – previous meetings:
1994 World Cup qualifier 10 October 1992, Lagos
Nigeria 4-0 South Africa
1994 World Cup qualifier 16 January 1993, Johannesburg
South Africa 0-0 Nigeria
2000 AFCON 2 nd round 10 February 2000, Lagos
South Africa 0-2 Nigeria
2004 AFCON 1 st round 31 January 2004, Monastir (Tunisia)
Nigeria 4-0 South Africa
2004 Mandela Challenge 17 November 2004, Johannesburg
South Africa 2-1 Nigeria
2010 World Cup/AFCON qualifier 01 June 2008, Abuja
Nigeria 2-0 South Africa
2010 World Cup/AFCON qualifier 06 September 2008, Port Elizabeth
South Africa 0-1 Nigeria