Three-time African champions Nigeria flew into Johannesburg in the early hours of Friday with a commitment to picking all three points in Saturday’s Group E top-of-the-table clash with South Africa at the FNB Stadium.
Stand-in Captain Ahmed Musa, who was the last Nigerian player to score against South Africa at the senior level when both teams finished a friendly match 1-1 in Nelspruit in March 2015, said the Super Eagles are not thinking of simply gaining a point from the encounter.
Musa said: “Our determination is to win and pick our ticket to the AFCON ahead of the final matchday next year.
“South Africa came to Nigeria to beat us and we are here to return the compliment.
“We will not be playing for a draw. We won in Seychelles and against Libya in Tunisia and we are here to win as well.”
The chartered MAX Air plane that flew the Nigeria delegation, led by Nigeria Football Federation’s 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, landed at the Oliver R. Tambo International Airport around 3.30am South Africa time, with 23 players, team officials, led by Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr, members of the NFF Executive Committee, some members of NFF Management and NFF Staff and a number of media representatives.
The delegation was met on arrival by the President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, who travelled 24 hours earlier for a meeting with a prospective commercial partner, as well as top officials of the Nigeria High Commission in Pretoria and the Nigeria Consulate in Johannesburg.
Musa and teammates will have a feel of the turf of the FNB Stadium, nicknamed Soccer City, as from 3pm on Friday.
Musa admits that Saturday’s encounter would not be for the faint-hearted.
Nigeria has not beaten South Africa at senior men level in the last four encounters between both nations, though it was in South Africa that Nigeria won her third and last Africa Cup of Nations title in February 2013.
A 2015 AFCON qualifier in Cape Town in September 2014 ended scoreless, before the Bafana Bafana held their ground for a 2-2 draw in Uyo two months later to deny the Super Eagles a place at the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea.
Both teams tied 1-1 in a friendly in Nelspruit in March 2015 before the Bafana shocked the Eagles in Uyo 2-0 on Matchday 1 of the current qualifying series.
“They are a strong team and we will not underrate them. But we are here for the three points,” Musa emphasized.