The Super Eagles of Nigeria survived a resilient South African side to scale through to the final of the 2023 AFCON after 120 minutes of intense football.
In the first half of the intense 2023 AFCON semi-final clash in Bouake, Ivory Coast, the Bafana Bafana of South Africa dominated the match and threatened the Nigerian defense throughout the first 45 minutes.
Despite the threats from Bafana Bafana, the first half ended 0-0 thanks to outstanding saves from Nigerian goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali.
In the second half, the Super Eagles of Nigeria were more organized as they made efforts to score the opener as early as possible but they couldn’t take charge of the midfield.
It was not until the hour mark when coach Jose Peseiro made strategic changes by replacing Moses Simon and Alex Iwobi with Samuel Chukwueze and Alhassan Yusuf respectively, that the Eagles looked more threatening in attack.
The changes made an immediate impact as Chukwueze created a great chance for Victor Osimhen who was fouled in the penalty box. After a VAR review, the Eagles were awarded a penalty which Williams Troost-Ekong converted in the 67th minute.
Towards the end of the second half, Victor Osimhen doubled Nigeria’s lead minutes after Ademola Lookman missed a glorious opportunity to double the lead.
Unfortunately for Osimhen, the VAR canceled out the goal due to an infringement in Nigeria’s penalty box in the build-up to the goal. Hence, the referee awarded a penalty to South Africa which Teboho Mokoena converted in the 90th minute.
The late-minute goal forced the game into 30 minutes of extra time which still couldn’t produce a winner. Hence, the game was decided by a penalty shootout.
During the shootout, South Africans missed two of the kicks thanks to Stanley Nwabali’s brilliant goalkeeping. Nigeria’s Ola Aina missed his but Kelechi Iheaacho who was an extra-time substitute scored the winner to end the game 4-2 on penalties.
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