Ahead of the quarter finals fixture against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, the Super Eagles of Nigeria has assured that they will not only triumph to progress to the semi finals, but will go all out for the Africa Cup of Nations title to reciprocate the exceptional love and motivation they have received from both fans and philanthropists like Captain Hosa Okunbor and Aiteo Group Chairman, Mr Benedict Peters.
Captain of the team, Mikel Obi, made the pledge at a breakfast meeting in their Cairo hotel at which President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, delivered the $75,000 promised by Mr Benedict Peters for the three goals scored against Cameroon in the Round of 16 encounter and assured them that the $20,000 per player promised by Captain Hosa Okunbor would hit their accounts before they file out against the south Africans on Wednesday.
Aiteo Chairman had pledged a reward of N25,000 for each goal of the Super Eagles while at Capt Okunbor went to the dressing room, as they trailed Cameroon 1-2 at half time, to motivate them with a promise of $20,000 per player following which the team redoubled to finish with a 3-2 victory.
“Let me assure you that we are very committed not only to win against South Africa on Wednesday, but to win this championship. We have confidence that we will go all the way,” an elated Mikel Obi enthused, saying the team has never had it so good.
“There is no doubt that your administration has done very, very well for this team. A lot of things have changed with regards to travelling, lodging and other logistics. We stay in the best hotels and fly chartered aircraft to matches. Your good self and the NFF as an institution also make it a point to fulfil all promises made to the team.
The Nigeria vs South Africa clash is scheduled for the Cairo International Stadium on by 9pm Egypt time, 8pm Nigeria time, on Wednesday night.
While the Super Eagles bundled out Cup holders and five-time winners Cameroon 3-2 in the Round of 16 in Alexandria on Saturday, the Bafana Bafana shocked host nation and seven –time champions Egypt 1-0 in front of 75,000 fans at the Cairo International Stadium.
Both teams were in the same qualifying pool during the campaign to reach Egypt 2019, with the Eagles finishing top of the pile while South Africa – who stunned Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo on the first day of the series – came second. Their second match in Johannesburg ended 1-1, granting Nigeria a ticket to the finals ahead of the final match day.
The confidence, tactical discipline, savvy and ambition that South Africa showed in their defeat of Egypt was evident for the world to see, but the world also saw the competence, capacity, unyielding spirit that the Super Eagles exhibited in ejecting the defending champions from the tournament.
South Africa has never beaten Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations finals, with their two previous meetings – a semi final clash in 2000 in Lagos and group phase encounter in 2004 in Monastir – ending 2-0 and 4-0 respectively in favour of the Super Eagles.
When South Africa won their only title (in 1996 on home ground), Nigeria were absent as a result of a boycott ordered by military despot Sani Abacha. The withdrawal led to a CAF suspension that accounted for another absence in 1998, where South Africa reached the final, losing to Egypt.
Nigeria won the African title in 1980, 1994 and 2013, while South Africa won when they hosted in 1996.