Nigeria secured a spot in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast after winning on penalties against South Africa 4-2, following 90 minutes and extra time that ended in a 1-1 draw.
The two teams started the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final with a sense of caution. Both sides remained vigilant.
In the 13th minute, a pass from the left side of the Nigerian attack towards the penalty area, and goalkeeper Williams intervened but failed to read the ball’s path, however the Nigerian attack failed to put it into the net.
South Africa didn’t wait long to respond. In the 26th minute, one of their attackers broke through from the right side, passed the ball, and it touched the hand of one of the defenders, but it wasn’t enough for the referee to award Bafana Bafana a penalty.
As time passed, South Africa organized its style of play and became more threatening. In the 38th minute, Percy Tau brought the ball down for Makgopa, who curved the ball, but the Nigerian goalkeeper, Uzoho, was in the right place.
However, South Africa’s threat did not last long. In the 43rd minute, Osimhen headed the ball wide, before the referee declared the end of the first half with a goalless draw.
A harsh blow for the Eagles
In the second half, Nigeria appeared more determined to move forward, creating numerous troubles for Bafana Bafana. In the 56th minute, Osimhen directed a header, but the ball went over the bar.
Osimhen broke into the penalty area in the 63rd minute and was brought down by Mvala, prompting the referee to award a penalty without hesitation. Captain Ekong cleverly converted it past Williams.
However, in the 87th minute, after initially awarding Nigeria’s second goal scored by Osimhen following a beautiful assist from his teammate, the referee reversed his decision after VAR intervention, announcing a surprise penalty for Bafana Bafana, which Mokoena successfully converted into the net.
This goal was a harsh blow to the Eagles, whose performance noticeably declined, and they struggled to regain control of the match. This aided Bafana Bafana in intensifying the pressure on the Nigerian goal and creating more opportunities.
In the 90th minute, Mokoena from the right side delivered a golden opportunity to his teammates, but a lack of understanding between two of them wasted a chance for Bafana Bafana to score the second goal. Moments after this opportunity, another clear chance presented itself to the South African attack, and Mudau, who was one-on-one with the goal, sent the ball far over the crossbar amid astonishment from everyone.
Against the backdrop of squandering these opportunities, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The two teams proceeded to extra time, during which Nigeria regained its momentum, revitalizing its attack, especially through Osimhen, who was the source of all dangers. In the 100th minute, Osimhen dribbled past a Napoli defender, took a shot, but it wasn’t powerful enough.
The second half of extra time followed the pace of the first, until Kekana committed a foul against Moffi, and the Egyptian referee, after consulting the VAR, awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, handing a red card to the South African player. The match ended in a draw, leading both teams to penalty shootouts, where Nigeria emerged victorious with a 4-2 score, securing their place in the final.