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Nigeria v South Africa – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets

Nigeria faces South Africa in the African Cup of Nations semi-finals on Wednesday.

Nigeria v South Africa

Nigeria faces South Africa in the African Cup of Nations semi-finals on Wednesday. These sides met in the 2019 tournament as the Super Eagles knocked out Bafana Bafana. Both of these teams have kept four consecutive clean sheets.

Nigeria Form

Nigeria came into the tournament on the back of two draws in World Cup 2026 qualifying. They drew 1-1 vs Lesotho at home and 1-1 away to Zimbabwe. They began the AFCON with a 1-1 draw vs Equatorial Guinea with an impressive 3.52 xG created but six ‘big chances’ spurned. A solid 1-0 win over Ivory Coast followed with just 36% ball possession.

In the final group game, Nigeria beat Guinea-Bissau 1-0 before comfortably beating Cameroon 2-0 in the round of 16. In the quarter-final, they beat Angola 1-0 in a tight match where they only had 45% possession and 1.12 xG.

Nigeria Team News

Coach Jose Peseiro has goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili fit to play after a knock in the round of 16. The XI looks settled and no changes are expected. Moses Simon is set to start over Samuel Chukwueze on the right wing.

Joe Aribo is set for a bench role with Frank Onyeka preferred alongside Alex Iwobi. Kelechi Iheanacho remains out of favour unless his side are chasing a goal.

Nigeria Motivation

The Super Eagles are chasing a first AFCON since 2013 and motivation is very high in the ranks.

They have used a back-five and are not focused on possession in this tournament. They will aim for a clean sheet and a moment of magic from Lookman or Osimhen to create a goal.

South Africa Form

Bafana Bafana have exceeded all expectations by reaching the semi-final. They had lost 2-0 away to Rwanda in their last competitive fixture before the tournament. After losing 2-0 to Mali in the first group match, things looked bleak. A 4-0 humbling over Namibia followed to give them a strong chance of progressing to the last 16.

After drawing 0-0 vs Tunisia to seal second spot, they beat Morocco 2-0 in a strong display. A second half missed penalty by their opponents played a big part. In the last round, they drew 0-0 with Cape Verde and won on penalties. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams saved four spot-kicks and performed well during the match as Cape Verde had 25 shots.

Southa Africa Team News

Bafana Bafana have used an unchanged XI for the last four fixtures and that is unlikely to change now. Coach Hugo Broos said the Cape Verde match was a poor performance, but he is expected to keep faith with the same lineup.

Winger Thapelo Maseko went off injured against Cape Verde and is a major doubt to feature in this one. He was a key impact player and it means fewer options to change the game.

South Africa Motivation

Broos has been pragmatic in this tournament. The side are disciplined defensively and don’t overcommit going forward.

They will keep it tight and look for a fifth straight clean sheet. A goal nicked on the break or from a set-piece could be the main route to scoring.

Key Stats

Nigeria have won their last 4 matches to zero

Nigeria have scored 1 or fewer goals in 7 of their last 8 matches

South Africa’s last 7 matches have only seen one team on target

South African have kept 4 clean sheets in a row

South Africa’s last 14 AFCON matches have seen them score more than 1 goal on just 2 occasions.


All the stats point to a tight match. These sides are rock-solid at the back, and neither is scoring many goals. Backing a 0-0 draw is worth a punt at least. Nigeria are favourites due to their greater attacking quality and depth.

Best Bet: Nigeria Clean Sheet at 1.71
Correct Score Tip: Nigeria 0-0 South Africa at 7.50
Alternate Bet: Nigeria win to zero (90 minutes) at 2.20

James is a football analyst who writes about the tactics of the PSL and English Premier League. He holds the UEFA A coaching licence and has previously worked for several clubs in analysis roles.Twitter:

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