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Nigeria handed Osimhen boost ahead of South Africa tie

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Nigeria
Nigeria players celebrate a goal in a past match. PHOTO/CAF
  • Osimhen had not travelled with the rest of the team to Bouake
  • Nigeria face South Africa in the semi finals
  • Nigeria also played South Africa in the 2000 semis

Nigeria have been handed a massive boost with the availability of striker Victor Osimhen ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final fixture against South Africa in Bouake.

The Super Eagles had travelled to Bouake without the talismanic forward, after what the Federation termed as a discomfort.

“Osimhen did not make the trip as a result of an abdominal discomfort. Team medics confirmed that he has been placed under close watch with a member of the medical team staying behind in Abidjan with him,” a statement from the team said.

But, on their final training session Tuesday, before the game on Wednesday, Osimhen trained with the rest of the squad.

The team confirmed saying; “Victor Osimhen has been declared fit and available for selection in the semi-final clash against South Africa on Wednesday. He has joined the team in Bouaké and has trained with the squad.”

Though he is yet to hit the back of the net in Ivory Coast, the Napoli centre forward has played a massively crucial role in helping the Super Eagles reach the semis.

Nigeria ready for South Africa

Nigeria

Nigeria players training ahead of their game against SOuth Africa. PHOTO/CAF

Meanwhile, defender Ola Aina says the team is ready to battle with Bafana. Aina says they know what to expect from South Africa, who have shown quite a solid display so far in the competition.

The last time these two sides met was in the 2019 quarter finals when the Super Eagles won 2-1 in Cairo.

“We are ready for the challenge. We know it wll be tough and we have prepared ourselves adequately. We are solely focused on getting the job done. It is a massive match with a lot at stake and our eyes are on the prize, making the final,” Aina, who plays his club football in Italy with Torino said.

These two sides met at this very same stage in 2000 when Nigeria hosted the tournament, and they won 2-0 in Abuja. Aina knows the South Africans will be coming in for revenge, but notes the team will have their best foot forward.

At the same time, Aina has praised the impact coach Jose Peseiro has had on the team, saying he has helped them remain focused throughout the tournament.

“The coach is hard on us when he needs to be, and lenient when he needs to be – there’s a good balance to help us progress,” Aina said.

In the same breath, South Africa head coach Hugo Broos says he is happy to prove the doubters wrong as he leads the Bafana to their first AFCON semi-final in 24 years.

Coincidentally, the last time they played in the last four, in 200, was against Nigeria’s Super Eagles, the latter winning 2-0 with a double from Tijani Babangida in Lagos.

Bafana seeking revenge

South Africa

South Africa players training in Bouake. PHOTO/SAFA/Twitter

Bafana will be seeking for revenge two decades later, but Broos, who has revolutionized the national team squad, is one keen to continue proving his doubters wrong.

“Many people in South Africa didn’t believe in this team but we believed, and the players believed in themselves. Reaching the semi-finals is great for South African football which has struggled in recent years,” the tactician said.

He believes they have shown their worth throughout the tournament, and have not fluked their way into the semi-final.

Looking forward to the duel against Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Broos has admitted it till not be an easy task, but says his side is full of confidence and they will be in to give their very best.

“The semi-final will be tough against Nigeria’s great players but we have nothing to lose now. We have to go in and give our best. Staying focused is essential. There is no pressure on us and we have more confidence now,” the tactician, who led Cameroon to the AFCON title in 2017, noted.

The last meeting between these two sides at the AFCON was in 2019, when the Super Eagles won 2-1 in the quarters. The two sides have met 14 times, Nigeria winning seven, losing twice while the rest ended in draws.

 

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