Second half goals by Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau broke the back of the Super Eagles and ensured a brilliant start to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign for the Bafana Bafana in Uyo on Saturday. It marked the first time South Africa would beat Nigeria in a competitive match.
A young Nigerian squad dominated the opening period against the South Africans at the same venue where both teams’ 2-2 draw in November 2014 ensured the Super Eagles missed the cut for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. But they could not get past a defenceline marshaled by Tebogo Langerman, Erick Mathoho, Dean Furman and Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
Wilfred Ndidi lifted his shot too high in the 11th minute, and two minutes later, Nigeria thought they should have been awarded a penalty as the ball touched the hand of a sprawling defender from a tendentious Oghenekaro Etebo run.
Kelechi Iheanacho, who had scored in seven of his previous eight matches for Nigeria, was a shadow of his lethal self, and after Moses and Etebo missed chances to put Nigeria ahead, Sibusiso Vilakazi came very close to steering the Bafana into the lead as he hit the upright from a Langerman cross.
Nigeria lost concentration at the back now and again, and in the 55th minute, Tokelo Rantie, who scored two goals for the visitors in that 2-2 draw in November 2014, headed past Daniel Akpeyi for South Africa’s first goal, off a brilliant pull out from the right.
Nine minutes later, Moses Simon should have done better than lift the ball too high, and in the 71st minute, substitute Lebogang Manyama struck the upright as Bafana tore the Eagles defence apart at will.
The visitors dominated on the turf of the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, and sealed a famous win when substitute Percy Tau broke away as Nigeria lost the ball from a corner kick and rounded Akpeyi before slotting into an empty net.
It was Coach Gernot Rohr’s first loss in seven matches with the Super Eagles, but at the post match conference, the Franco-German said: “We failed to convert our opportunities and when they scored, my young team became nervous and started to make mistakes.
“It is a sad result, but we win together and we lose together, and when a team gets this kind of result, it looks within and rectifies whatever shortcomings in order to achieve better results subsequently. This can only make us stronger.”