The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has assured that South Africa does not pose any danger to Nigerian citizens, as the two countries are set to face each other in the semi-final match of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tonight.
This assurance follows a safety advisory issued by the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria on Tuesday, for its citizens residing in South Africa.
“The attention of the Nigerian High Commission Pretoria has been drawn to potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigeria living in the host country, largely influenced by the upcoming 2024 African Cup of Nations Bafana Bafana [semi-final] on Wednesday,” their statement read.
The commission has advised citizens to be cautious of where they watch the match, particularly in public places, and to avoid loud, riotous or provocative celebrations if Nigerians win the match, both before and after the game.
However, the Dirco has since described the commission’s advisory as “unfortunate”.
“The advisory is regrettable because it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens of South Africa and Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa,” the department said.
“The South African national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, has played against their Nigerian counterparts, the Super Eagles, on many occasions, and there has been no history of soccer hooliganism among South Africans associated with the outcome of such encounters.”
The department has since called on the diplomatic representatives to approach the department to address any concerns about diplomatic matters.
“We are confident that the sports-loving nation of South Africa poses no threat to Nigerian citizens, and we do not agree with the apprehension expressed by the High Commission.”
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana is said to be confident ahead of the Afcon semi-final clash against the Super Eagles.
“Yes, we know and understand who we are up against. We know the might of this team and that their players play all over Europe. We also know that last time in an Afcon what the result was, but this time it’s different. It’s different players, a different team and a different Afcon. Anything is possible,” the Bafana Bafana coach, Hugo Broos, was quoted saying on Tuesday.
The South African Football Association (Safa), also cited captain and goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams, who was the man of the match in the quarter-final clash against Cape Verde.
Williams made history after saving four penalties out of the five penalties in a shootout – something that has never been achieved at the Africa Cup before.
“After seeing the players run for about 130 minutes non-stop, it was my turn to stand up and do my part. I’m happy it went our way but ultimately this is a team sport. I don’t like to take credit because they fought just as hard. So, reaching the semi-finals here means we did it together,” he said.
Kick off is at 19:00 this evening.