Resurgent Ahmed Musa could spell doom for South Africa


South Africa's footballers may find themselves cursing their luck when Nigeria striker Ahmed Musa lines up against them on Saturday in an African Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo.

'Turbulent' is the word that best encapsulates the 24-year-old's football season with Leicester City, but he appears to have bounced back at the worst possible time for Bafana Bafana.

Musa has the ability and motivation to go with the returning form to serve Bafana an unwanted dose of deja vu. They have never beaten the Super Eagles in a competitive fixture, though their last three clashes have been drawn.

Signed from CSKA Moscow last English summer, Musa was expected to form a deadly partnership with Jamie Vardy as Leicester prepared to defend the title they won in fairytale circumstances the previous season. But as the Foxes' season spiralled dangerously close to the edge, so did the Nigerian's form as he failed to establish himself in the starting XI.

Leicester eventually looked the way of Algerian Islam Slimani, and his tally of seven goals for the season proved far superior to the Nigerian's two.

Things were no better at national team level. Named captain after the premature retirement of Vincent Enyeama in 2015, Musa inexplicably gave up the role to John Mikel Obi in circumstances that remain cloaked in mystery. Instead, he was named vice-captain.

Not only did he lose the captaincy, but he also lost his place in the team, seeing Alex Iwobi and Moses Simon climb ahead of him even before the return of Victor Moses. As if that was not bad enough, he then gave up the vice-captaincy in March this year.

Having emerged from that shadow - and recently tying the knot - Musa is looking a player reborn. The smile is back and so is the deadly finishing.

Against Corsica, his first game back after his wedding, Musa came within inches to helping himself to a goal and an assist. Henry Onyekuru missed his early lay-up, and then Musa himself also fluffed his own opportunity.

One week later, there were to be no such mistakes. The former Kano Pillars man rifled home two first half goals in a 3-0 win over Togo. But it was more about his general play, blazing his way in behind defences to create chances, that had coach Gernor Rohr preening.

"He was impressing us. Even during Ramadan, he played a wonderful 45 minutes, gave us chances with Corsica and scored good goals against Togo," Rohr told KweséESPN.

Rashidi Yekini, Tijani Babangida, and Osaze Odemwingie have all scored braces against Bafana, and a resurgent Ahmed Musa certainly knows how to do the same. Bafana would do well to be wary.