Cape town - Bafana Bafana will look to kick Nigeria’s stronghold over the national team to the curb when they meet in Wednesday’s eagerly-anticipated 2015 AFCON group A qualifier in Cape Town.
Following an emphatic 3-0 win over Sudan in Khartoum on Friday, South Africa will set out to make history against the Super Eagles at Cape Town Stadium.
Bafana have never beaten the West Africans in a Cup of Nations or a World Cup match, making Wednesday’s second round of group A qualifiers a crucial one for the hosts, who will have to overturn 22 years of Nigerian dominance.
Midfielder Dean Furman, back in his city of birth, is confident South Africa can handle the current Afcon champions, who surrendered a 46-match unbeaten home run in AFCON qualifiers over the weekend, when they were outdone by Congo-Brazzaville in Calabar.
“Winning breeds confidence, it lifts the mood of the camp and everyone’s in great spirits. We’ve been training really hard in Cape Town since we’ve been back (from Sudan),” Furman said on Tuesday.
“Hopefully we can keep the spirits high with another win. Everyone seems to be excited for this game and we have to make sure that we approach it with the same mentality as we did the game in Sudan.”
Furman is likely to partner fellow overseas-based playmaker, Andile Jali, who also played the full 90 minutes against Sudan.
The pair were outstanding in Khartoum and will feature in a team unlikely to be in need of any re-jigging from coach Shakes Mashaba.
With the likes of Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel and Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi set to thrill the Cape Town supporters, Furman admitted Nigeria were a team brimming with talent in all positions.
“As an individual, this is what you want. You want to be playing against the best, you want to be playing against the top clubs and countries in the world,” he said.
“What’s important is that we really go out there knowing that we can go and win this game. We have to believe that we can compete against these players.
“It’s going to be a tough game, we know they lost the other day but they’re still a top side. They’re still the African champions and they’ll be looking to get their first points on the board.”
Born in the Mother City, Furman moved to England when he was five. He began his youth career at Chelsea before moving on to current club Doncaster Rovers. The 26-year-old was delighted to be back in his home-town.
“My earliest memories are from Cape Town and Camps Bay. I’ve been back many times and it’s always great coming back here and it’s even better playing football in front of my home city.
“Hopefully we’ll play in front of a packed crowd at the great stadium.”
Mashaba has pleaded with locals to turn out in their thousands to support Bafana Bafana, who have had to endure some hostile crowds on the continent, calling for a similarly daunting atmosphere for the travelling Nigerians.
“We can only hope that people come in large numbers. We need the '12th player'. We saw in Sudan, the stadium was fully packed, up to the brim and they all came to cheer their team," Mashaba said.
“Come give the boys the strength that they need. Even if things don’t go right for us, let them cheer for us and we promise them good things.”