Nigeria triumph in Mandela Challenge

15 August 2013

Nigeria defeated Bafana Bafana 2-0 in front of a disappointing crowd in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday evening to enhance an already excellent record against the hosts.

It was the Super Eagles’ sixth win in eight outings against South Africa. In fact, Bafana’s only win over the African champions, in the 2004 Mandela Challenge, remains the only match in which they have scored against the Nigerians.

Bafana had their chances to change that dismal record in Durban, but Nigerian substitute Uche Nwafor was the only man to find the back of the net, doing it twice in the second half to secure victory for Stephen Keshi’s charges.

Crucial difference

Although both teams had their chances, Nigeria enjoyed the better of the game, with Keshi’s second half changes making the crucial difference.

The African champions showed a willingness to shoot from range and kept Bafana goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune busy throughout the contest. The home team by contrast, tried to get the ball out wide, without much success, before crossing into the Nigerian box.

“I think it was an excellent game,” Bafana coach Gordon Igesund told Goal.com afterwards.

Igesund’s assessment

“I thought the first half was quite evenly matched situation. I think they became much better in the last third.

“They used the ball well. I think we gave the ball away quite cheaply in the second half.”

After exploratory efforts from both sides, Nigeria produced the first meaningful attack in the 10th minute of the game when Nnamdi Oduamadi got behind defenders Eric Mathoho and Thabo Nthethe. Khune, though, was alert to the danger and stifled the Super Eagles’ foray.

Nigeria threatened again five minutes later when Sunday Mba found Elderson Echiejile in the box, but Echiejile’s volley passed over the crossbar.

Just too late

South Africa then put some pressure on the visitors, forcing a corner and taking the game into the Nigerian penalty area. Bernard Parker swept a ball across goal from the left and Siphiwe Tshabalala was just too late to redirect it with his right foot into Austin Ejide’s net.

John Ogu came close for the African champions, but his curling shot hit the outside of a post and went behind for a goal kick.

Excellent technique

Bafana’s Tokelo Rantie then shot straight at Ejide, while SA skipper Khune showed excellent technique to get his body behind a long-range shot from Obinna Nsofo, which bounced awkwardly in front of him.

As the half drew to a close, Rantie found the side of the Nigerian netting, while Reneilwe Letsholonyane fired straight at defender Godfrey Oboabona.

Super Eagles’ coach Keshi made three changes at the break, bringing on Victor Moses for Sunday Mba, Ahmed Musa for Obinna Nsofor, and Uche Nwofor on for Shola Ameobi.

Jackpot!

Jackpot! Just four minutes into the second stanza, Nwofor put Nigeria in front, netting with a cheeky back-heel. Moses made the initial penetration before finding Oduamadi, who set up Nwofor for the shot.

Ten minutes later, a good cross from Masilela on the left was nipped away from Bernard Parker by Ejide. Reneilwe Letsholonyane then tried his luck from distance, but failed to keep his effort down and it passed harmlessly over the bar.

2-0

In the 68th minute, Nwofor made it Nigeria 2, South Africa nil. Moses was again prominent in the build-up, beating a defender before finding Musa, who cut the ball back, leaving VVV Venlo striker Nwofor with an easy tap-in.

Chasing the game, Bafana’s Lerato Chabangu tried to catch Ejide off his line, but his shot was too high. Parker, too, couldn’t keep the ball down from a free kick with just over 10 minutes remaining.

In the 91st minute, Siphiwe Tshabalala managed to create some space and fired off a shot, but Ejide maintained his clean sheet and secured a 2-0 victory for the Super Eagles.