Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI highlights five dangerous Bafana Bafana players which Gernot Rohr and his Super Eagles stars must keep quiet as they look to bag the three points in this Saturday's matchday-one clash in the Group E of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Andile Jali ( Defensive midfielder, KV Oostende, Belgium)
Andile Jali will be gunning for his 39th international cap on Saturday against the Super Eagles.
Jali has twice played against Nigeria; in the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, on 10 September and 19 November 2014. He was in action for 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw in South Africa and saw 19 minutes of action in the reverse game at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo. The draw ultimately denied Nigeria the chance to qualify for the AFCON in 2015.
The KV Oostende player made 17 Jupiler league appearances for his Belgian club in the 2016/2017 season, scoring once. He was yellow-carded once.
The teammate of former Super Eagles striker Joseph Akpala will be involved in one of the midfield battles on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see who Gernot Rohr deploys in the attacking midfield role.
Whoever takes the play-making role in the Nigerian line-up will come up against a good tackler of the ball who rarely gets carded. The defensive midifeld role for the Bafana Bafana, and particularly Jali, can effectively do a good job for this hungry South African side hoping to nullify the attacking threat of the Eagles.
Sibusiso Vilakazi (Attacking midfielder, Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa)
Sibusiso Vilakazi will be seeking his 20th cap for South Africa on against Super Eagles on Saturday. He was in the Bafana squad that held the Eagles to a 0-0 draw in the first leg fixture of both side's 2015 AFCON qualifiers, but was not in the team for the return leg which ended 2-2.
Vilakazi has scored four goals for South Africa and has two assists. He will be instrumental in the Bafana's attempts at breaking down the Eagles' backline with his incisive passes and shots from outside the box.
Tokelo Rantie (Striker: Genclerbirligi,Turkey)
Nigerians have still not forgiven, nor forgotten Tokelo Rantie for scoring the brace at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium Uyo on November 19, 2014, that stopped the Super Eagles from reaching the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. He played throughout the duration of that game and was in action for 45 minutes in the first leg that ended scoreless.
The Genclerbirligi of Turkey striker has scored ten goals for his national team in 35 international matches and will be hard-pressed to make his goals count this time after his brace was eventually cancelled by the Nigerians three years ago.
Rantie scored six goals in 24 games in all competitions for his Turkish side in the 2016/2017 season, playing a total of 1,148 minutes of club football.
Kermit Erasmus (Midfielder: Lens‚ France)
Former South Africa youth international, Kermit Erasmus, will be chomping at the bits to impress on Saturday. He was in the team that held Nigeria to a 2-2 draw in Uyo in 2014.
Erasmus had missed the chance to face the Super Eagles twice prior to that qualifying game. He was not named in the squad for the first leg of that fixture and was injured when the two rivals clashed in an international friendly on 14 August 2013. Nigeria WON 2-0 with late Stephen Keshi in charge and striker Uche Nwofor scoring a brace in the 49th and 68th minutes.
Another motivating factor for Erasmus will be his determination to conquer his injury demons as he has had hard luck with it. The midfielder missed 43 days of football and eight club games for Lens between March 15 and April 27, 2017. In 2016. He was not in action also between March 3 and 29th. These injury setbacks were responsible for his missing four key games for the Bafana as the team got into a new era under Stuart Baxter.
Erasmus played 22 times in all competitions for his Ligue 2 side in the 2016/2017 season scoring one goal and assisting another. That tally would have been better but for his injury nightmares.
Itumeleng Khune (Goalkeepee: Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)
Itumeleng Khune was in goal in 24 South Africa Professional Football League (SPFL) matches for Kaizer Chiefs last season and was in action in five domestic competitions.
The experienced goalkeeper could be the difference between his team and the rampaging Nigerian forward players on Saturday.
Capped 82 times for the Bafana Bafana, Ikhune has been in goal in two matches against Nigeria, on 6 September 2008 in a 2010 World Cup qualifier away in South Africa which the Eagles won 1-0 courtesy of a 71st minute goal by Ikechukwu Uche.
He was also in action on 14 August 2013 when the Bafana lost 2-0 to the Super Eagles in an international friendly.
Bafana Bafana have recorded many positive results through the sheer brilliance of Khune, and the shot-stopper is capable of producing the goods on Saturday.