AFCON 2019: Nigeria v South Africa – Key players to look out for

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Percy Tau of South Africa and Kenneth Omeruo of Nigeria.
Bafana lock horns with familiar foes on Wednesday night, and Goal looks at several players who are potential game changers from both teams

#1 Thembinkosi Lorch

After scoring one of the most important goals in South African football history (against Egypt), the weight of the nation’s expectations will rest firmly on Lorch’s shoulders.

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The Orlando Pirates attacker made his first appearance in the tournament against the Pharaohs and justified the masses calls for his inclusion with an impressive performance. His tempo and creativity could be key to exploiting the Nigerian’s defence.

#2 Alex Iwobi

The English-based midfielder was on target against Cameroon and could be influential against Bafana.

His ability to hold on to the ball and also look for the decisive pass will be important considering that Bafana struggled against teams with technically gifted players in the competition.

#3 Percy Tau

The 25-year-old is a player who Nigeria will be familiar with. He scored in the 2019 Afcon qualifier in Uyo which saw Bafana register a 2-0 win over the Super Eagles.

Tau is arguably one of South Africa‘s brightest talents and should he find his feet, he could be the creative spark needed to overcome Nigeria.

#4 Ahmed Musa

Pace – this is what the former Leicester City star brings to the table.

This could potentially be used as a weapon as Bafana’s centre back pairing of Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thulani Hlatshwayo are not generally known for their pace.

#5 Dean Furman

A player often criticised whose role is misunderstood.

Unlike his teammates, Furman is not known for flashy football, rather he is the destroyer in the heart of the midfield and his responsibility is to break down play.

This will be incredibly important against a team like Nigeria, who have a highly talented midfield.

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#6 Odion Ighalo

Nigeria‘s top scorer in the competition with three goals, Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter has to find a way to neutralise his threat.

The striker is a typical No.9 with good close control and power, and he cannot be given any space by the Bafana defence inside the box.

#7 Bongani Zungu

The Amiens-based midfielder was outstanding against Egypt.

The playmaker has an eye for a pass and isn’t scared to get stuck into a challenge.

#8 Daniel Akpeyi

Akpeyi is a familiar face to South Africans as he currently plays for one of the Premier Soccer League’s biggest clubs, Kaizer Chiefs.

Having missed the Madagascar game, Akpeyi returned for the clash against Cameroon and gave a good account of himself despite conceding two goals.

However, the Nigerian shot-stopper is yet to convince his critics in South Africa and Bafana’s players will be talking about capitalising on his known weaknesses.

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