South Africa only just managed to scratch and claw their way into this quarter-final contest. Their hard-fought 1-0 Round of 16 match against Egypt came off the back of a single victory and a fourth place spot in the ranking of third-placed teams. Considering this, it should be little surprise that they are viewed as significant underdogs here. Still, they have defied the odds so far. Who’s to say they couldn’t manage it again? No one beat Egypt for them, after all, and it was a well deserved victory.
However, their opponents Nigeria seriously impressed in their 3-2 knockout victory over Cameroon with an astonishing comeback in the second half. That, alongside other impressive performances, have been enough to give Nigeria the edge in the eyes of many. Still, South Africa are resilient and are unlikely to fold under the pressure of commentators.
Nigeria vs South Africa Prediction: Nigeria 1-0 South Africa
This is a game that comes down to consistency. Although South Africa did manage to impress in their last outing, it is not enough to match the quality that Nigeria have produced week in and week out. They’ve been far from perfect but when you compare their games in 2019 in terms of performance quality, there is little doubt who comes out on top. And while the result of this game isn’t quite that clear, we do have to view a tight Nigeria victory as being the most likely outcome, with South Africa’s luck finally running out. With that in mind, our prediction is 1-0 in Nigeria’s favour.
Our recommended tip: Nigeria win
The home side hold the advantage heading into this quarter-final clash, according to the bookmakers. Nigeria have performed better than their opponents in recent outings. They have won three of their last five matches – two with clean sheets – and drawn once. South Africa have just fallen short of this, drawing once and losing twice in their last five competitions. This is enough to make Nigeria the favourites, with Ladbrokes giving the side low-risk 21/20 match odds compared to 16/5 odds on a Nigeria victory. Therefore, we recommend you back the home team for your best chance of winning your bet.
The good news for South Africa is that recent history is very much on their side. Their last couple of meetings – both for qualification to the Africa Cup of Nations – ended in a 2018 draw and a 2-0 victory for South Africa in 2017, with another trio of stalemates coming before it. When you consider that the last decisive victory in this fixture was therefore back in 2014, with Nigeria winning that African Nations Championship game 3-1, then you have to come to the conclusion that South Africa have an edge in their recent head-to-head contests.
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Players to watch: Odion Ighalo & Bafana Zungu
Nigeria: Odion Ighalo
Following his astonishing performance against Cameroon, we couldn’t pick anybody else. There were few doubts over who the man of the match was when the final whistle blew and Nigeria’s incredible comeback was complete. It’s hard to imagine the result would be anything close to 3-2 without Ogion Ighalo’s dual goals in each half. He’s proven himself capable of being a difference maker when the pressure is on and against a team as tough as South Africa, that may be exactly what they need.
South Africa: Bafana Zungu
He may be a powderkeg who has managed to gather three yellow cards in four international appearances, but Bafana Zungu has also showed an awful lot of promise. Indeed, were it not for his goal over Namibia – the team’s only one during the group stages – South Africa would not be here today. If he can keep on the right side of the rules, Bafana Zungu could be the key to unlocking more Africa Cup of Nations success.