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Afcon 2023: Nigeria and South Africa ready to resume rivalry

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Both teams boast goalkeepers who could be named as the best at the finals in Ivory Coast, with four clean sheets apiece.

Moreover, South Africa captain Ronwen Williams displayed a man-of-the-match performance with four penalty saves in the shoot-out victory over Cape Verde.

“Ronwen is the toast of South Africa. To save four penalties is just phenomenal,” Furman said.

“I’m so pleased for him – an incredible guy, the skipper and that is what you call leading by example.”

With just two senior caps before their Group A opener against, Nigeria keeper Stanley Nwabali has been one of the revelations of the tournament with composed and confident displays in his first Afcon with the Super Eagles.

The 27-year-old, who like his opposite number plays in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, has eased fears Nigerian supporters had about the goalkeeping department.

“Nwabali came in and is keeping very well,” Babangida said.

“He is good with the ball at his feet. Bringing him into the team has cushioned the problem that we are having in that aspect.”

Babangida was the match-winner when the sides met in 2000, scoring both goals at a tournament co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria.

But he says the Super Eagles had some nerves before meeting a South Africa side, who had knocked out the Black Stars in the Ghanaian capital Accra, with stars like Fish, Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune and Shaun Bartlett.

“South Africa were leading in Africa at that time and Nigeria had been out of Africa competition for almost four years,” Babangida, 50, said, referring to his nation’s withdrawal from the 1996 finals, which resulted in a ban from those in 1998.

“In the semi-final, Nigerians were jittery because they (South Africa) had already beaten Ghana and were confident. It was a tense game but we were more determined and got them at the right moment.”

Although Nigeria won that tie, they were beaten in the final by neighbours Cameroon, who lifted the trophy after a penalty shoot-out.

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