AFCON 2023: Nigeria Super Eagles pip South Africa to reach final


Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning spot kick as Nigeria knocked out South Africa 4-2 on post-match penalties and qualified for the finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday night.

The showdown at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake unfolded like a Nollywood epic, brimming with suspense and dramatic twists. The semi-final clash saw Nigeria and South Africa locked in a 1-1 stalemate after regular and extra time, setting the stage for a nail-biting penalty shootout.

Nigeria appeared poised for victory when Victor Osimhen found the net late in the game, but a twist came as VAR awarded South Africa a penalty, offering them a lifeline back into the match.

Bafana Bafana capitalized on this chance, pushing the contest into extra time and eventually to the decisive shootout. Stanley Nwabali, Nigeria’s goalkeeper, emerged as the hero, making crucial saves that secured the Super Eagles’ spot in the final.

The match was a rollercoaster of emotions. South African goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who had become a hero in the previous round with four penalty saves, faced the agony of defeat, a stark contrast to his earlier triumphs.

Nigeria, on the other hand, rejoiced, inching closer to their fourth African title.

The game had been tense from the start, with both teams displaying defensive prowess and goalkeeping excellence. Alex Iwobi and South Africa’s Evidence Makgopa and Percy Tau had their moments, but the goalkeepers stood tall.

Nigeria’s breakthrough came from a penalty, smoothly converted by Troost-Ekong, igniting a frenzied search for a second goal. However, VAR’s intervention awarded South Africa a penalty, which Teboho Mokoena converted, dragging the match into extra time and ultimately the shootout.

Nwabali’s saves during the penalties proved decisive, showcasing his skill and composure under pressure.

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