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Mashaba expects a tough fight from Keshi

Bafana take on Nigeria in their second African Cup of Nations 2015 qualifier at Cape Town Stadium.

Shakes Mashaba. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Shakes Mashaba's second tenure as Bafana Bafana coach faces a stern test tonight as his team take on Nigeria in their second African Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2015 qualifier at Cape Town Stadium.

Mashaba's first game in charge saw his side travel to a hot and humid Khartoum to take on Sudan. While they looked shaky in the first half, the introduction of Sibusiso Vilakazi in the second half was enough to inspire the team to a 3-0 win and start their Afcon campaign on the right foot.

Meanwhile, Nigeria were surprisingly beaten by 3-2 by Congo in their opening Afcon qualifier on Saturday. The win for Congo was only the second time they had ever managed to beat the Super Eagles in competitive fixtures.

Bafana will be hoping to add to Nigeria's woes as they go in search for their first win against the Super Eagles in six matches. In the previous encounters between the sides, it's the defending Afcon champions who have the upper hand with five wins and a draw to their name.

For Bafana, vital to any win will be the performance of Vilakazi who scored a brace in the game against Sudan. His creativity and eye for goal was the difference on Friday for a team that lacked inspiration for much of the first half.

An interesting subplot to the match is the role of Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, who for months was rumoured to be in line to take over the Bafana Bafana head coach job following the departure of Gordon Igesund. Keshi was linked to the job when he indicated after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that his time with the national team was up. However, Keshi was never appointed and Mashaba knows that because of that snub, the Super Eagles head coach will be leading out his side tonight looking to prove a point to the South African Football Association.

"Coach Keshi is going to fight. This is because he believes he should have been coach of the South African team. He is going to try to use all his psychological tactics to make sure that all his players follow his instructions."

Mashaba will be the first man applauded should he deny Keshi and Nigeria any points in the Group A encounter. While for local fans, they can start believing that come 17 January 2015, Bafana Bafana can be one of the 16 teams fighting it out for the continent's biggest prize.

The Bafana starting line-up:

Senzo Meyiwa (C), Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thabo Matlaba, Erik Mathoho, Anele Ngcongca, Dean Furman, Andile Jali, Mandla Masango, Bongani Ndulula, Oupa Manyisa, Sibusiso Vilakazi.

Darren Keet, Sibusiso Khumalo, Rivaldo Coetzee, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Tokelo Rantie, Keegan Dolly, Themba Zwane

Two changes to the team: Keegan Dolly and Tokelo Rantie start on the bench, with Sibusiso Vilakazi and Oupa Manyisa coming in as replacements.

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