Bafana Bafana

Rise of Arsenal ‘whizz-kid’ a danger for Bafana

Alex Iwobi (AP)
Alex Iwobi (AP)

Cape Town - It is invariably a case of a soccer team approaching a game faced with the prospect of ending up with three different results and consequent varying outcomes - namely by winning, losing or drawing.

But in an unusual twist for Bafana Bafana as they prepare for Saturday's vital Africa Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria at FNB Stadium, South Africa's national team will in all likelihood find themselves in the same  position for the final away qualifying game against Libya early next year whether they lose or draw against "The Super Eagles", with a victory, of course, settling the qualification issue successfully for Bafana with immediate effect as the top two teams from each group go forward to the finals.

What this strange scenario would seem to require as the motivating objective for Bafana, with the points tally for the three contenders in the E Group qualifying segment currently standing at nine for Nigeria; eight for South Africa and four for Libya, is to place a greater emphasis on winning as drawing and losing will probably make little difference if Libya as expected take full points from group wooden spoonists Seychelles on Saturday.

Throwing down the gauntlet and taking on the talented "Super Eagles" with an attacking approach is no easy task, despite Bafana having already upset Nigeria on their home terrain in the opening qualifying game, with a new potential danger now confronting Bafana through the dynamic emergence this season in the English Premier League of 22-year-old Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi.

Iwobi never quite fulfilled the high expectations held out for him when he joined The Gunners three seasons ago, but he has blossomed dramatically under the guidance of Unai Emery and credits the club's new manager with ''restoring confidence in my ability and raising the level of my game."

Iwobi, in the process, looms as a key influence for Nigeria in Saturday's showdown in which a draw will keep "The Super Eagles" ahead of Bafana in the points tally and with a game against the moderate Seychelles to complete their qualifying programme.

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