South Africa responded after Nigeria warned its nationals in Pretoria to be cautious ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 semi-final clash between Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperations of South Africa (DIRCO) criticized Nigeria for the advisory from the Nigeria High Commission.
On February 6, 2024, DIRCO stated that the advisory was unnecessary as South Africans from the country have never attacked Nigerians over a football match.
“Department of International Relations and Cooperation has learned about an unfortunate advisory issued by the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Pretoria,” read part of the statement.
DIRCO further said that the advisory is regrettable as it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between South African citizens and Nigerians living in or visiting the country.
Ministry criticizes advisory
The foreign ministry also affirmed that it is confident that South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, disagreeing with the apprehension expressed by the West African nation.
“As we have done in the past with similar alarming advisories, we call on the diplomatic representatives to approach DIRCO to address any concerns about diplomatic matters,” added DIRCO.
On his part, DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the advisory was unnecessary, noting that the two teams have clashed in the past.
“Bafana Bafana have played the Super Eagles many times & there’s no history of soccer hooliganism associated with the outcome of such encounters.
We’ll engage our Nigerian counterparts through diplomatic channels further on this. Totally unnecessary!” he said.
The Nigerian High Commission in South Africa had issued an advisory on safe conduct for Nigerians in South Africa before, during and after the match.
“Be mindful of where they choose to watch the match especially in public places, and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match,” read part of the statement.
Nigeria vs South Africa
The do-or-die clash between the two countries is set to take place at the Stade de la Pix de Bouake in Cote d’Ivoire on February 7, 2024.
South Africa booked their place in the semi-final stages of the AFCON 2023 on February 3, 2024.
The Bafana Bafana won after a penalty shootout in the quarter-final match against Cape Verde, following a barren draw after extra time.
South Africa’s hero of the night was goalkeeper Ronwen Williams who saved 4 penalties in the mouthwatering shootout.
This result set a fiery clash against the West African rivals who had booked their place after an impressive 1-0 win against Angola on February 2.
The Super Eagles have not lost any game in the tournament, boasting a solid backline which have seen them concede only one goal since the tournament kicked off.
On the other hand, Bafana Bafana who will be making their first ever AFCON semi-final appearance since the year 2000, have lost only one match.
They lost their first group opener to Mali, in which they also conceded the only two goals they have conceded in total.
Ivory Coast who will play DRC Congo in the second semifinal match eliminated Mali. The hosts had suffered a heavy loss of 4-0 to Equitorial Guinea during Group stage, before the Elephants redeemed themselves.