Mandela Challenge: Igesund Dares Stephen Keshi

•Igesund, Bafana Bafan of South Africa coach

•Igesund, Bafana Bafan of South Africa coach

Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi may pride himself as coach and player that has won the African Cup of Nations, AFCON, but coach of Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Gordon Igesund boasted that that would count for little when both teams clash tonight at the Nelson Mandela Challenge billed for the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa.

The Eagles will be playing in the Nelson Mandela Challenge for the second time and Igesund believes the array of stars that will be on parade against their West African opponents won’t deter them from winning the tie.

Both countries have their worries as some players have been  ruled out as a result of injuries.

•Keshi, Nigeria's Super Eagles Chief Coach
•Keshi, Nigeria’s Super Eagles Chief Coach
•Igesund, Bafana Bafan of South Africa coach
•Igesund, Bafana Bafan of South Africa coach

Nigeria will be without Emmanuel Emenike because he just moved to Fenerbahce of Turkey from Spartak Moscow of Russia, Chelsea’s Kenneth Omeruo was injured, while Mikel Obi is out due to a minor illness.

SuperSport United duo of Bennett Chenene and Innocent Mdledle are out due to injury. Igesund has opted to replace only one player (Mdledle) with Marc van Heerden. Chenene had been called up as a replacement following more withdrawals last week.

Swelling the list of withdrawals is Racing Genk defender Anele Ngcongca, whose club decided not to allow join forces with his national teammates, yet Igesund argued strongly that Nigeria are beatable.

According to Igesund:” “This game is important to us, it would be nice to go out and beat Nigeria, I believe we are capable of doing that. We need to send out a strong message to the rest of the continent that we are progressing.”

Although he admitted that the Eagles is a side with quality, he still feels his squad also has what it takes to topple the reigning African champions saying: “Nigeria are without doubt a quality team, but we also have lot of quality and it will not be an easy game for both teams. In my view only one goal will separate the two teams.”

Responding to Igesund’s boasting Keshi said: “We aim to win every game we play and this one would not be different.”

While both coaches are talking tough, the players have also joined the war of words. The first canon is from Bafana Bafana captain, Itumeleng Khune who called on his teammates to win the clash to honour former President Nelson Mandela.

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Khune said the players have a “huge responsibility to bring joy on Madiba’s face.” The former president has been in the hospital for the past two months and his health has been described as “critical but stable”.

The duo of Sunshine Stars captain, Godfrey Oboabona and Chigozie Agbim, of Enugu Rangers, agreed that the Bafana Bafana will be keen to upset the African champions but they are ready for the challenge.

Oboabona said the game is just not an international friendly but “a match of prestige”, while Agbim tagged it a grudge tie.

“Yes, it is a friendly match but at the same time it is a match of prestige for the two countries. I am not expecting an easy game because they will want to beat us because we are African champions and that will be big news if they do. But we will do our best and by God’s grace come out with a good result,” Nigeria centre-back, Oboabona argued.

Nigeria last featured in the 2004 edition of the fixture and suffered a 2-1 loss in Johannesburg, but they will be confident of turning the tables in 2013.

Prior to the losses against Copa America holders, Uruguay and world champions, Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winners had avoided defeats for 19-straight games.

South Africa, meanwhile, have alternated between victory and defeat in their last four fixtures, and come into this game locked in a difficult battle for FIFA World Cup qualification.

South Africa last hosted Nigeria in a World Cup qualifying match in September 2008 that the visitors won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ikechukwu Uche.

The Villarreal forward is a notable absentee from a squad that boasts Victor Obinna as its biggest goal threat – the 26-year-old having scored 11 goals in 44 international appearances.

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