Nigeria vs South Africa: 3 superior tactics Finidi George should employ to conquer Bafana Bafana

Super Eagles are set to battle South Africa again after conquering them at AFCON 2023 |Photo Credit: Imago

Nigeria vs South Africa: 3 superior tactics Finidi George should employ to conquer Bafana Bafana

Asukwo Oduo 09:51 - 06.06.2024

South Africa is currently second on the log after a win and draw, while Nigeria is behind after managing two draws in two games. 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria, on Friday, June 7th, will file out against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a must-win World Cup Qualifier.

This marks the second time in recent months that both Nigeria and South Africa will clash after the Super Eagles triumphed on penalties in the semi-final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

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South Africa will face a different Super Eagles to the one they played after the 2023 AFCON since Nigeria now have a new manager in Finidi George, following the departure of Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro, who led Nigeria to a second-place finish in Ivory Coast.  

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Finidi George has dropped some players who featured at the last continental tournament and has also reinstated a few who missed out – giving opportunities to NPFL stars who were previously deemed ‘not good enough’.

Finidi George will need to apply a few tactical tweaks to get the better of South Africa, and three have been listed below:

1. Revert to a back four

At the 2023 AFCON, the Super Eagles played a back 3 because of Peseiro's ultra-defensive approach.

However, it will be wise of Finidi George to revert to the traditional back four that the Super Eagles is more accustomed to.

Calvin Bassey had a great year for the Super Eagles and Fulham |Photo Credit: Imago

Also, the absence of Troost-Ekong - the main man in the back three at 2023 AFCON should be enough reason for Finidi George to play a back four.

Fulham's Calvin Bassey and West Brom's Semi Ajayi should be the first-choice centre-back pairing while Sadiq Ismael plays at left back. Either Bruno Onyemachi or Osayi Samuel can fill in at right back in the absence of Ola Aina.

2. Possession football to frustrate South Africa

The Super Eagles have the players to play attractive possession-based football. Finidi George showed this in his first game in charge against Ghana, and he would need to do it again when Nigeria face South Africa.

Alex Iwobi played a vital role for Nigeria and Fulham this season || Imago

With Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, Raphael Onyedika and Frank Onyeka in the middle, Nigeria can keep the ball and exploit spaces in the South African backline.

The likes of Kelechi Iheanacho can also be introduced for his creativity and ability to drop deep, receive the ball and link the forwards.

3. Be unpredictable

Victor Osimhen (injury) and Nathan Tella (family emergency) have both withdrawn from the team to face South Africa.

With these withdrawals (especially Osimhen), all eyes would be on in-form Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman and Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface, and quite rightly so.

Lookman (17 goals, 10 assists) and Boniface (21 goals, 10 assists) come into this qualifier on the back of an outstanding season for their clubs.

Super Eagles of Nigeria star Ademola Lookman celebrates season with Atalanta | Atalanta on X

In fact, both players are in pole position to replace Victor Osimhen as the next CAF Player of the Year, and it's certain Hugo Broos will adopt a strategy to stifle them.

However, Finidi George needs to be clever and come up with a counter strategy that makes his team unpredictable and anybody can come up to deliver the goods.

The clash between Nigeria and South Africa kicks off in Uyo in less than 48 hours. You can follow the match live on all Pulse Sports Nigeria platforms.