It's Boniface v Foster as Bafana collide with Super Eagles

Victor Boniface of Leverkusen reacts after their loss during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 final match between Atalanta BC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Dublin Arena on May 22, 2024 in Dublin, Ireland.

Tipping Bayer Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface to step up in the absence of reigning African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen, retired Nigerian goalkeeper Greg Etafia has predicted that the Super Eagles will beat Bafana Bafana.

Nigeria host Bafana at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo in a 2026 World Cup qualifier tonight (9pm SA time). The Super Eagles will be without their injured talismanic striker, Osimhen. Etafia, who earned four caps for Nigeria before retiring, believes Boniface will  hold his own and inspire Nigeria to a victory in Uyo. Etafia is confident the Super Eagles will outwit SA in this Group C tie.

"Of course, Osimhen's absence is a blow ... I mean, we are talking about the African Footballer of the Year here but Nigeria have enough depth upfront. I really think Boniface will shine. After missing Afcon, he should be highly motivated to prove that he can help Nigeria and this is a good chance for him to lead the attack as Osimhen is injured,'' Etafia told Sowetan yesterday.

"I see Nigeria winning this game. It will be very close because Bafana are a tough team but the coach [Finidi George] will go all out to win this game because many people doubt him, so he still wants to prove a point. He was appointed after Afcon [where he was the assistant coach to Jose Peseiro] and he beat Ghana 2-1 in his first game in a friendly and lost 2-0 to Mali in the second game, so he's under pressure and he will not allow another defeat.

Even so, Etafia has cautioned the Super Eagles against underestimating Bafana, who they beat on penalties in the semifinals at the recent Afcon in Ivory Coast. The retired shot-stopper, who's based in SA, where's working as a goalkeeper mentor at TS Galaxy, feels Bafana's advantage is that their team has been together for a while.

Broos urges Bafana to be bullish against Niger

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has entreated his troops to play without fear against Nigeria in the World Cup qualifier, insinuating the Super Eagles ..

"Nigeria should know that Bafana are no pushovers as they showed them at Afcon that they can compete. Nigeria's team is new, especially because the coach is new but Bafana have been together for a while and that can work for them,'' Etafia noted

With Evidence Makgopa not part of the team, returning Lyle Foster is likely to lead Bafana's attack. Foster was restored to the side after controversially missing Afcon amid his mental health issues. Nkosinathi Sibisi is favourite to partner Mothobi Mvala at the heart of defence as Grant Kekana isn't there.

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