Abuja - If the pre-match sentiments of the much-anticipated Nelson Mandela Challenge are anything to go by, the duel between hosts South Africa and African champions Nigeria promises to be an enthralling one.
The two sides lock horns at the imposing Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday evening in honour of the ailing anti-apartheid activist.
The odds are heavily stacked against the hosts, popularly known as Bafana Bafana, who have not beaten the Super Eagles in an official match since readmission to football in 1992.
Ahead of the match, the South African players were confident of changing the trend.
“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 Siphiwe Tshabalala, the most capped member in the Bafana side.
Fellow midfielder Dean Furman was equally confident.
"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.
Bafana can find strength in the fact that they have previously beaten Nigeria in the 2004 edition of the Mandela Challenge.
Super Eagles Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, said the team was in buoyant mood.
“We are obviously going to beat Bafana Bafana but I cannot mention the scoreline.
"That will be a proper dedication to Mandela, who is not only a South African icon but a global one, to get well soon,” he said.
- CAJ News