Wednesday Feb 07, 2024. 22:37
The first semifinal in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations saw Nigeria beat 10-man South Africa 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time at the Stade de la Paix.
Date: 7 February 2024
Nigeria (0) 1 (Troost-Ekong 67′ PEN)
South Africa (0) 1 (Mokoena 90′ PEN)
Nigeria: S. Nwabali, O. Aina, W. Troost-Ekong, S. Ajayi, C. Bassey, B. Osayi-Samuel (K. Omeruo 120+2′), F. Onyeka (J. Aribo 102′), A. Iwobi (A. Yusuf 63′), M. Simon (S. Chukwueze 63′), V. Osimhen (T. Moffi 110′), A. Lookman (K. Iheanacho 102′).
South Africa: R. Williams, K. Mudau, G. Kekana, M. Mvala, A. Modiba, T. Mokoena, S. Xulu (M. Mayambela 75′), S. Sithole, T. Zwane (Z. Lepasa 75′, N. Sibisi 117′), E. Makgopa, P. Tau.
First 45′: The Super Eagles controlled the game early on but Bafana Bafana created the first chance on 17 minutes when Sphephelo Sithole hit a firm shot straight at Stanley Nwabali from range. Semi Ajayi then drew a comfortable save out of Ronwen Williams with a tame header on 26 minutes before Sithole glanced a header wide of goal 10 minutes later from Percy Tau’s cross. Alex Iwobi forced a save out of Williams with a curler from 25 yards out on the left in the 39th minute, while Nwabali pulled off a superb save to keep out Evidence Makgopa’s first-time strike from the edge of the box two minutes later.
Second 45′: Tau and Victor Osimhen both failed to hit the target in the opening stages of the second half, but the Napoli striker would make a telling impact on 66 minutes when he powered his way into the box before being brought down by Mothobi Mvala for a penalty, which was converted by William Troost-Ekong. Makgopa nearly hit back eight minutes later with a shot on the turn that flashed just wide of the post before Williams got back to deny Lookman on 82 minutes after the Atalanta winger had initially rounded the keeper inside the box. Jose Peseiro’s side thought they had won the game with four minutes left on the clock when Osimhen tapped home Bright Osayi-Samuel’s pass from a few yards out. However, the goal was ruled out after VAR called play back for a foul on Tau by Alhassan Yusuf at the other end moments earlier. Teboho Mokoena lashed the ball home from the spot to force extra time.
Extra time: Osimhen tested Williams with a low strike on 104 minutes and was again wasteful when he steered a header over the crossbar two minutes later. Terem Moffi was introduced with 10 minutes left to play and he made an immediate impact after being hauled down by Grant Kekana on 113 minutes as raced through on goal. The referee reviewed the incident on the pitchside monitor and gave Kekana his marching orders, but only awarded a free-kick instead of a penalty.
Penalties: Nwabali was the hero on this occasion as he denied Mokoena and Makgopa from 12 yards out, while Ola Aina blazed over for the Super Eagles, but Kelechi Iheanacho kept his cool from the spot to send them through to the final for the first time since the 2013 edition.
What the result means: Nigeria maintained their 100 per cent record against South Africa at the continental showpiece with a fourth victory. It was the furthest Bafana Bafana had come since they lost the semifinals at AFCON 2000.
What’s next: The Super Eagles will take on the winner of the second semifinal between hosts Ivory Coast and DR Congo, with the final set to take place at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday, February 11.