Nigeria v South Africa last five H2Hs: Can the Super Eagles defeat their bogey team?

The semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations are upon us and Nigeria are set to face South Africa in the first of two blockbuster matches on Wednesday, 7 February. Nigeria are now the favourites to win the tournament so all the pressure is on their shoulders coming into the match with South Africa looking to reach their first AFCON final in 26 years.

Nigeria v South Africa last five H2Hs
There have been plenty of draws between Nigeria and South Africa in recent times – Photo by Icon Sport

Nigeria v South Africa H2H record

Despite playing on the same continent, Nigeria and South Africa have only played each other on 14 previous occasions. Nigeria have the superior win rate, however, in recent years they have only managed one victory over Bafana Bafana in their last six meetings which suggests Wednesday night could go either way.

  • Nigeria Wins: 7
  • Draws: 5
  • South Africa Wins: 2

The two nations first met in 1992 in a World Cup qualifier for the 1994 edition of the tournament in the USA. On that occasion, Nigeria won 4-0 which is a scoreline that remains their best-ever result against South Africa. A similar result on Wednesday would feel like a serious signal of intent ahead of a potential final against Ivory Coast at the weekend.

Ronwen Williams was the hero for South Africa in the quarter finals - Photo by Icon Sport
Ronwen Hayden Williams of South Africa celebrates victory during 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match between Morocco and South Africa at Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro, Cote dIvoire on 30 January 2024 – Photo by Icon Sport

Nigeria v South Africa last five H2Hs

Nigeria 2-2 South Africa – 19th November 2014

Nigeria and South Africa played out an exciting 2-2 draw in qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. South Africa had already qualified from Group A whereas Nigeria needed a win to make it to the tournament. The home side found themselves 2-0 down but a red card for South Africa's Reneilwe Letsholonyane gave them renewed hope and they ended up drawing the match thanks to two late goals from Sone Aluko. Unfortunately, a point wasn't enough and they missed out on AFCON 2015.

South Africa 1-1 Nigeria – 29th March 2015

The two sides met again in an international friendly shortly after AFCON 2015, where South Africa finished bottom of their group with just a point. Late goals were the order of the day once again with Nigeria taking the lead in the 85th minute through Ahmed Musa before Bongani Zungu equalised in stoppage time for the hosts.

Nigeria 0-2 South Africa – 10th June 2017

In 2017, Nigeria and South Africa kicked off their 2019 AFCON qualification campaigns at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Nigeria. South Africa stunned the hosts, beating them for the first time in 13 years and the first time ever away from home thanks to second-half strikes from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau. The win gave South Africa the best possible start to qualification while it left Nigeria with plenty of work to do.

South Africa 1-1 Nigeria – 17th November 2018

The two sides met again in South Africa in the penultimate match of AFCON 2019 qualifying. Both teams were in a commanding position in Group C and they knew a point would keep their respective destinies in their own hands going into the final round of matches. The match played out as expected and after the scores were level at the break, both teams came out in the second half determined not to lose and the match petered out.

Nigeria 2-1 South Africa – 10th July 2019

The most recent Nigeria v South Africa came in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria finally managed to break their five-match winless run against South Africa who had become a bogey team for the Super Eagles. Samuel Chukwueze gave Nigeria an early lead before Bongani Zungu levelled things up halfway through the second half. Then, in the 89th minute, William Troost-Ekong scored to send Nigeria through to the semi-finals.

Nigeria v South Africa H2H
Samuel Chukwueze scored the opener in the last Nigeria v South Africa H2H

Potential MVP – Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman has been Nigeria's best player during AFCON 2023 so far with the former Everton winger netting three times in five appearances. He is outperforming poster boy, Victor Osimhen, and will unquestionably be a huge threat again on Wednesday night against South Africa.

Lookman is also capable of bringing more from Osimhen. The Napoli striker has only scored one goal at AFCON 2023 so far but it was assisted by Lookman which shows the two can play together effectively. Will the dynamic duo fully click against South Africa?

Adamola Lookman
Adamola Lookman has been Nigeria's best player at AFCON 2023 – Photo by Icon Sport

Key trend

Looking at the Nigeria v South Africa last five H2Hs, it's clear that these teams are difficult to separate with three of them ending in a draw. As this match is a semi-final, a draw isn't possible, however, it could quite easily go to extra time or even penalties. Nigeria are 10/1 to win the match on penalties while South Africa are priced at 11/1.

For more tips, check out our in-depth Nigeria v South Africa prediction.


Avatar of Andy Delaney
Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance Sports Journalist with ten years of experience covering football in the United Kingdom and abroad for various publications including the Manchester Evening News, UtdReport and Football Whispers. Andy also has a keen interest in basketball, cricket, golf and tennis and has covered major sporting events such as the Masters in Augusta.