The Super Eagles of Nigeria have advanced to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations 2023 following a 4-2 win over South Africa on penalties. The pulsating encounter went to extra time after both teams played out a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. Captain William Troost-Ekong put Nigeria ahead in the 67th minute. Nigeria’s belief that it would snatch the win within regulation was dashed when South Africa won and converted a penalty in the 90th minute. In the spot kick that followed after extra time, Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty as goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali saved twice in the shoot-out to set Nigeria on the road to her eighth AFCON final.
Osimhen was doubtful a day to the encounter but the striker recovered to lead the line expertly, while Bright Osayi-Samuel deputized for injured Zaidu Sanusi.
South Africa had more of the possession early on and fashioned the first real opportunity through Sphephelo Sithole who shot straight at Nwabali from distance following a mistake in defence, and the 27 years old saved again from Percy Tau.
The South Africans continued to probe but the Super Eagles had the next chance when Alex Iwobi also shot straight at Ronwen Williams before Evidence Makgopa drew a sprawling save from Nwabali who clawed a curler away from goal. Osimhen then headed wide from a corner kick as both sides went into the interval all square.
Nigeria came out with more purpose in the second half and Osimhen singlehandedly took on three defenders to win a penalty off Mvala’s mistimed tackle in the box. Coming up against Ronwen Williams who had saved four penalties in their quarter-final victory, Troost-Ekong stepped up to slot the ball onto the net for a 1-0 lead on 67 minutes. The Bafana Bafana almost provided an immediate response through Makgopa’s drilled shot that went inches wide of the far post.
Osimhen thought he has sealed Nigeria’s win with the second goal of the game at the back post but VAR cancelled the goal after a review and gave South Africa a penalty for Yusuf’s foul in the box. Tebohong Mokoena sent Nwabali the wrong way to square the match. There was still chance for both sides to win it at the death but Khuliso Mudau blazed wide from a rebound while Samuel Chukwueze did same at the other end as the match went into extra-time.
Nigeria then created the two chances in first half extra-time with Lookman’s stinger headed for the far post and Osimhen’s bullet low shot both saved by Williams. Grant Kekana stopped substitute Terrem Moffi in his stride and earned himself a red card but Iheanacho could not convert and the match went into penalties. Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning kick after Nwabali had saved two penalties to win 4-2 on penalties.
Nigeria will play the winner of the match between hosts Ivory Coast and DR Congo on Sunday.