South Africa vs Nigeria: Preview, team news as Banyana Banyana ambush Super Falcons in Pretoria

An epic showdown awaits when the continent’s most successful team, Nigeria’s Super Falcons, battle with reigning African champions South Africa in the final qualifying decider for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, reports.

Nigeria won the first of the two-legged playoff on Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja by the slimmest of margins.

Rasheedat Ajibade netted a first-half penalty to hand the Super Falcons a 1-0 victory and their first win over the Banyana Banyana in six years.

South Africa would feel they should have been awarded a spot-kick of their own in that encounter, but in the end, they fully deserved to suffer their first loss since a 3-4 defeat to Malawi in the COSAFA Women’s Cup in October.

Nigeria, on the other hand, extended their unbeaten run in a 90-minute match to 14 games with the win in Abuja.

The Super Falcons stood toe to toe with Canada, Republic of Ireland, Australia, England, and Cameroon in that impressive streak and will fancy their chances against the South Africans.

Their task is clear: avoid defeat in Pretoria and secure your spot at Paris 2024.
For South Africa, however, it is not an impossible mission.

They need at least a 1-0 win to force the fixture into a penalty shootout or any two-goal margin victory to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.


Nigeria’s win in the first leg is the Super Falcons’s seventh win in the 13 meetings with South Africa since the turn of the millennium.

The Banyana Banyana boast four wins while the other two encounters ended in a draw.

Interestingly, anyone expecting home advantage to work in South Africa’s favour on Tuesday may be disheartened that the Super Falcons have never lost to Banyana Banyana on South African soil.

The Falcons claimed a win and a draw in their two previous meetings in South Africa.

Legendary forward Perpetual Nkwocha netted a brace as Nigeria secured a 2-1 win over South Africa at the Sinaba Stadium in the group stage of the 2010 WAFCON.

Both teams settled for a 1-1 draw in a friendly encounter played inside the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng two years later.

Team news

Super Falcons star girl Asisat Oshoala was not selected for the first match in Abuja after arriving at camp a day before the crucial playoff.

She will be in contention to start in Pretoria as her experience and quality could make a difference against the South Africans.

Anyone of Uchenna Kanu or Chinwendu Ihezuo could drop to the bench for Oshoala. However, it would be a surprise if it would be the latter to drop following her excellent showing on Friday.

Benfica ace Christy Ucheibe, traditionally a midfielder, excelled in a centre-back pairing with Osinachi Ohale, and the two could be deployed again to counter the Banyana’s attack expected to be spearheaded by the tricky Thembi Kgatlana.

The ever-dynamic Deborah Abiodun picked up a knock that forced her out in the second half of the first leg, but coach Randy Waldrum expects the Pittsburgh Panther midfielder to be ready for the battle ahead.

Just like for the Falcons, there are no reported injuries in the camp of the South Africans.

What are they saying?

South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis:

“We have to look at the footage to see how we can rectify things and how we can be better. We need to score, but we need to be aware to not concede and make sure that we score first to get the game back on at even.

“It’s now up to us to take the game to them and make sure that we score and also make sure that we are settled in defence and we don’t concede.

“They don’t have to come. They can sit back, but the onus is on us. We are going back to familiar surroundings, and we hope to take the game to them.”

Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum:

“As for what I feel about the next leg, there is no difference if we would have won by two (goals) instead of one.

“I still feel like we have to go and get a result there.

“We don’t want to go and sit back and try to defend and hold on to this victory.

“I think we still want to show that we are the best team in Africa and we are the better team. I thought we showed that tonight, and we’ll show it again next week.”

Predicted lineup

South Africa starting eleven (4-2-3-1):
Swart; Ramalepe, Mbane, Matlou, Dhlamini; Moodaly, Gamede; Magaia, Seoposenwe, Motlhalo; Kgatlana.

Nigeria starting eleven (4-2-3-1):
Nnadozie; Alozie, Ucheibe, Ohale, Okeke; Abiodun, Ayinde; Ihezuo, Payne, Ajibade; Oshoala.

Match details

Competition: CAF Paris 2024 Women’s Olympic Qualifier
Match: South Africa vs Nigeria
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria
Date: Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Kickoff time: 6:30 pm (Nigerian time)

NB: Who will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris: Nigeria or South Africa? Leave your comments below, as well as your predictions. 

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