• Baxter gets boost as injured players return
By Joe Apu
Super Eagles midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, has delared that the team is ready for the AFCON 2019 qualifier against South Africa.
Onazi, who will lead the Eagles out on Saturday in the absence of recuperating captain Mikel John Obi, told thenff.com on Tuesday: “It is a big game, and we are one for the big occasion.
“I have confidence in the group that we have now and the ambition oozing in the camp. We want to go to the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. Starting well on Saturday will be key to our aspiration,” he stated.
However, Stuart Baxter was handed a Bafana Bafana boost last night when a number of his injured players took part in full training, although two were forced to sit it out.
The South African national team took to the FNB Stadium field yesterday morning for the first of two sessions of the day, with Tokelo Rantie and Rivaldo Coetzee sitting it out as they continue to recover from their respective injuries.
Lebogang Manyama, Andile Jali, Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Ngoma and Erick Mathoho were all reported to have had injuries earlier this week, however, the quintet was back in action during Baxter’s session.
When asked for an update on the player injuries ahead of travelling to Nigeria today, Baxter told the media.
“It’s good news, because all but Tokelo and Rivaldo will train today. We’re going to try and get them activated in the afternoon, and if they do that successfully then all of the players will have trained before we depart for Nigeria. That means we’ll have a full squad to choose from.
“I think some of the injuries the players have been carrying for a long time, and the players probably thought that they’d just keep on playing, but the doctor wanted to make sure that they were 100%.”
Bafana are expected in Nigeria today ahead of the match.
Nigeria’s army on Saturday will include former junior international Kelechi Iheanacho, who has scored in seven of his last eight matches for the Super Eagles, as well as record scorer in the FIFA U17 World Cup, Victor Osimhen. There are also this season’s top scorer in the Austrian Bundesliga, Olanrewaju Kayode, the pacy Moses Simon and the nimble –footed Alex Iwobi.
The last outing between both teams was a friendly match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit two years ago, which ended 1-1. Ahmed Musa scored a late goal in a game in which Daniel Akpeyi (likely to start in goal for Nigeria on Saturday) saved a penalty, but there was still time for the Bafana Bafana to draw level.