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OPINION: Bafana will reign supreme over Nigeria

It's been 10 long years and approximately five and a half disappointing hours of football since the last South Africa's senior men's national football team has beaten Nigeria.

The Nigerian Super Eagles have, for the longest time been Bafana Bafana's greatest nemeses on the African continent, having only lost once against the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations champions in 11 encounters since 1992.

Bafana walked away 2-1 victors in an international friendly on the 17 November 2004, ending Nigeria's four match unbeaten streak.

After that match, the three-time continental champions have won four matches and have drawn two with Bafana, with the most recent draw resulting in Nigeria's exclusion from Afcon 2015, where they failed to go defend their 2013 title.

The two rivals will meet for what will be a 12th time in 23 years as Nigeria look to exact revenge for South Africa denying them a chance to take part in the Afcon in Equatorial Guinea in January and February. While Bafana will be desperate to end the hoodoo they've been under for two decades.

Who will want this victory more?

If you ask me, I say Bafana, and so they should, because after a brilliant qualifying campaign for the aforementioned Afcon tournament, that saw them book their place unbeaten, with a game in hand and at the expense of the defending champions, they crashed out of the competition unceremoniously.

They lost to Algeria in their opening game, drew with Senegal in their second and lost their final group match to the overall runners up, Ghana, performances that left many a hopeful South African heartbroken and even angry, at times.

So, a clash against one of Africa's football powerhouses will serve as much desired encouragement and solace to the beautiful game's faithful that all is not lost and that our national team has some direction.

Do I believe they can do it? Can they finally show Nigeria that their reign of dominance over South Africa will continue no more? Definitely.

With a fairly new look squad, of predominantly locally based players, coach Shakes Mashaba and his boys have no reason whatsoever to not come out on top.

They should fancy their chances as their opponents suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat at the hands of Uganda in a friendly midweek, while Bafana handed neighbours Swaziland a 3-1 hiding.

Although Swaziland is not the best measure of your team's capabilities against a giant of continental football, it does provide the confidence players need.

One such player who will be beaming with that confidence is Thabo Mnyamane, of the University of Pretoria. He made his debut for the national team against the Swazis and marked it with his very first goal in national colours.

With players who have spirit like that, Nigeria will be in for possibly their biggest challenge this year.

My prediction for the game? 2-1 to Bafana.

Morena Mothupi is sports reporter at Eyewitness News. Follow him on Twitter @_Mrena.

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