TotalEnergies U17 AFCON: Crowie ready for ‘wounded’ Nigeria


South Africa head coach Duncan Crowie says his side will be wary of Nigeria when they clash in a crucial final Group B match at the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations in Constantine on Saturday night.

Nigeria lost their last match, 1-0 against Morocco, and Crowie believes they will come in with vengeance especially noting that they dominated that game but ended on the losing side.

“They played a very quality game in their last match and we know they will come in to this tie like a wounded animal. They can be a very dangerous team and there is always quality in that side. It will be a fantastic game. Despite losing that game, I still think they had a lot of quality that should not be ignored,” the tactician said on Friday during the pre-match press conference.

The two sides are tied on three points after a win each in the group phase and will be looking for wins to finish second in the group.

Nigeria sit top of South Africa currently at second and a draw will not favor the Amajimbos in their quest for an automatic qualification slot. A draw will still see South Africa progress, but only as one of the top two third placed teams.

“We want to concentrate on getting a result for ourselves and not having to depend on someone else. Our ultimate goal is to go into the match with an objective to win,” further noted the coach.

Crowie adds; “We don’t care if Nigeria come spitting fire. We want our boys to spit more fire. Whoever wants it more will get it.”

Midfielder Gomolemo Kekana says the players know they face a tough Nigerian side, but reiterates their confidence in what they have prepared to battle for a win.

“We are in the right state of mind. We are aware of what we have worked in training and we will work hard playing our own game to try get a win. We know that the Nigeria team has a lot of quality and can switch up either play the ball on the ground or long, but we know what to do,” the TS Galaxy man stated.

Meanwhile Crowie has said he has seen tremendous improvement in his team over the last two games of the tournament, and rolling back to when they started their qualification journey at the COSAFA championship.

“I have definitely seen growth into a very mature team that can handle pressure. Their character to win and their mentality to know what to do at what time has really improved,” noted the tactician.

The last time South Africa played at the tournament, in 2015 when they reached the final, they faced Nigeria in the semis and won the game 1-0.

However, Crowie says history counts for nothing, and this will be a different ballgame altogether.