South Africa goalkeeper Darren Keet expects a tough match when they face Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo tonight.
However, the Belgium-based shot-stopper is confident his side are good enough to get a result and deny the Super Eagles a shot at the defence of the title they won last year, incidentally in South Africa.
“Nigeria are the champions of Africa and a game against them is never easy,” Keet told Complete Sports at the Le Meriedien Hotel in Uyo yesterday as the team prepared to go for training.
“We’ve always had a tough time against Nigeria and now that they need to beat us to qualify, it’s going to be a difficult game, especially with the backing of their fans.”
Although Bafana Bafana are already through to AFCON and seemingly have nothing to play for, Keet sees tonight’ match, and next year’s AFCON in Equatorial Guinea, as the perfect opportunity for South Africa to bounce back after years of drought.
He said: “We want to put South Africa back in the big time where we belong. We want to be back on top of African football. We want to be where Nigeria are at the moment. So if we win games like this one against Nigeria, it will give us confidence going into the Nations Cup.
“We might have qualified, but we’ll continue to play the same way we’ve done throughout the qualifiers. We’ll give it our all and try to beat Nigeria, probably get our first competitive win against them.”
Keet took over from Senzo Meyiwa, who was unfortunately killed after keeping four clean sheets in the first four matches of the qualifying campaign.
He insists the team has got over the Orlando Pirates goalkeeper’s death.
“Senzo’s death was a big shock and it’s been a difficult period for South Africans and us players but we’ve got past the mourning stage and playing to honour his memory. We won against Sudan when his death was still very fresh in our memory and it was tough, but we dealt with it and got the points that took us through to the Nations Cup.
“It wasn’t easy taking over from Senzo and there was a bit of pressure as all eyes were on me. But I love playing for my country and I dealt with the situation. It was big for me because I was his good friend and we worked together for a long time.”