With Bafana Bafana sitting on top of Group A in the 2014 African Nations Championships, level on points with Mali but with a superior goal difference, their clash against Nigeria on Sunday at the Cape Town Stadium has all the hallmarks of a right royal battle.
Coach Gordon Igesund knows it’s going to be tough, but is hoping to take advantage of gaps in the Super Eagles’ midfield as their players push forward in search of a crucial victory.
“The pressure’s on, it comes down to one game,” he told Soccer-Laduma.
“Obviously it’s going to be a tough. They’re in a situation where the team knows they have to win which might make it easier for us.
"Both Mozambique and Mali put players behind the ball, but Nigeria will come at us, are going to open up a bit, and if they do that, I think we’ll be able to score some goals.
“But having said that I’m happy where we are, top of the group, with one game to go. It’s now up to us, in our hands. We’ve got to win or draw to qualify for the quarterfinals, and I’m confident that we’ll do that.”
Igesund admits that some of his young defenders have been a bit “nervous in certain situations” but is happy with their progress.
“We haven’t been shaky in defence, but a bit nervous. I had a 20-year-old playing left-back and a 21-year-old as centre-back so they were nervous, but with each game they’re getting better.
"Overall nobody stands out, all the players have been fairly consistent, although I think Matthew Pattison played well against Mali,” he concludes.