AFCON: How Nigeria Defeated South Africa To Reach Final

by J.J Olawuyi

The Super Eagles from Nigeria ascended to the height of the African Cup of Nations following an exhilarating 4-2 triumph in the penalty shootout against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

The encounter was filled with dramatic shifts, featuring both teams making and missing goals, alongside a contentious decision by the VAR that altered the game’s trajectory.

**Nigeria Secures the Advantage through a Penalty**
In the initial half, the game remained without goals, with both sides battling to forge distinct opportunities.

The impasse was resolved in the 67th minute, as Nigeria gained a penalty due to a foul on Victor Osimhen, the African Player of the Year, by Mothobi Mvala within the penalty area.

William Troost-Ekong, the Super Eagles’ captain, confidently dispatched the ball into the net’s center, misleading the goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

**Controversy from VAR Negates Nigeria’s Second Goal**
Nigeria believed they had increased their lead in the 77th minute, following a spectacular goal by Osimhen, delivered by Samuel Chukwueze.

The forward demonstrated exceptional calm and skill, directing a low shot into the goal’s left corner.

Yet, after consulting the VAR, the referee disallowed the goal, pointing out a preceding foul by Chukwueze on Thapelo Morena.

Adding to Nigeria’s vexation, the referee also penalized Nigeria with a penalty due to a handball by Troost-Ekong.

**South Africa Levels the Score through a Penalty**
South Africa capitalized on this moment to equalize, with Teboho Mokoena forcefully striking the penalty into the goal’s bottom left corner, outplaying the Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili.

This turn of events ignited celebration among the Bafana Bafana supporters, fueling aspirations for a resurgence.

**Overtime and Penalty Shootout**
The game extended into overtime, with neither side securing a decisive goal in the remaining time.

The overtime was fraught with tension and opportunities for scoring by both teams.

In the 105th minute, Nigeria earned a free kick near the penalty area, following a foul on Moffi by Mvala.

Mvala, the South African midfielder, was shown a red card for his challenge, reducing his team to 10 players.

Nonetheless, Nigeria was unable to take advantage of the free kick, thwarted by Williams’s exceptional save.

The match concluded with a penalty shootout, as both teams remained goalless through overtime.

Nigeria exhibited greater composure and precision in the shootout, successfully converting four out of five penalties, while Nwabili thwarted two of South Africa’s attempts.

The Super Eagles rejoiced in their progression to the AFCON final, poised to contend with the victor of the other semifinal between Ivory Coast and DR Congo.

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