While Bafana Bafana will face Nigeria in their next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in November, one of their stars has now revealed he nearly retired from Super Eagles duty after receiving death threats aimed at his wife and children.
Odion Ighalo has been in superb form in Nigeria's past three AFCON qualifiers, scoring six of the 10 goals in their wins over the Seychelles (3-0) and Libya (4-0 and 3-2).
However, the 29-year-old, who is now plying his trade at Changchun Yatai in China, has revealed that he almost quit international duty after some fans took their abuse following Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup exit too far.
"I know the fans want me to score goals. I understand them. But some of them took it to another level," he told KweseESPN.
"They said a lot of things. To my innocent kids, to my wife, even to the extent they threatened my life and the life of my family.
"I felt very bad (when they threatened his family). I had to talk to my wife because she could not take it. Some words they said about my kids, about me. Some words they said to her, threatening and all that. That is beyond football.
"My wife said 'you don't have to go there (to Nigeria) any more' and it was because of all what they said to her and to our family."
Ighalo, though, ended up staying with the national side, and explained how Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr played an important role in his decision.
"I want to thank Rohr because after the World Cup and all those things happened, he called me before the Seychelles game (in September) and I told him I was contemplating stopping because it is not easy," he added.
"But the coach had belief in me. He said 'I know you are a good goalscorer and I know you can do it. Come and show them that you can score.'
"If a coach believes in me, then I will come. I told him 'coach, if I am in your plans 100%, then I will honour the invitation any time you call me.'
"He said 'yes, you are in my plans for the games'. Then he said 'don't be under pressure, just go do your thing, I know you can do it.'
"That gave me the confidence which I believed that I needed. I want to thank him for defending me, and giving me the words like a father, encouraging me, talking to me. He gave me more belief and I thank God for repaying him with these goals."
Nigeria have moved above South Africa in Group E, sitting on nine points, with their only defeat coming against Stuart Baxter's side in June 2017. Bafana, meanwhile, dropped to second place, with after their goalless draw with the Seychelles on Tuesday.
South Africa will welcome Nigeria in a top-of-the-table clash on 16 November, with the winner guaranteed qualification for the AFCON 2019.
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