Super Eagles Peck the Boys of South Africa in the Eye 4-2 on Penalties to Earn a Final AFCON Ticket.

Super Eagles Peck the Boys of South Africa in the Eye 4-2 on Penalties to Earn a Final AFCON Ticket.
Super Eagles Peck the Boys of South Africa in the Eye 4-2 on Penalties to Earn a Final AFCON Ticket.


Eniola Olatunji

Leicester City top striker known in football community as Senior Man, Kelechi Ihenacho relegated the Bafana Bafana (Boys) to the losers’ 3rd place match of AFCON 23 with a crafty decisive penalty kick that pushed the Super Eagles into the final berth 4-2 after a 1-1 heartbreaking encounter at the Olymic Alassane Outarra Stadium in Bouake. 
Nigeria’s coach tactically changed some players including removing Osimhen and brought in Ihenacho and Omeruo but Stanley Nwabali in goal for Nigeria and who plies his trade in South Africa ensured the loss of two kicks for South Africa.

The highly tensed match saw a goalless first half and while Victor Osimhen was on a dribbling run from the right flank was brought down in the box and on field Captain, PAOK of Greece Defender, William Troost-Ekong played shot at the 67th minute that Goalkeeper Williams got the direction but was fractions late for Nigeria’s first goal.

Nigeria got a goal in the 86th minute from Osimhen but Ref Amin Mohammed Omar of Egypt after consultations with VAR disqualified the goal that was very well celebrated.

Nigeria lost important concentration and conceded a shocking penalty which Mamelodi Sundowns player Teboho Mokoena skillfully beat goalkeeper Nwabali with in the 90th minute for the equalizer. Mokoena had scored against Morocco.  

Substitute Terem Moffi of Nigeria was hacked down at the periphery of the penalty box in a goal bound move by Grant Kekana in the 115th minute and Ref Omar of Egypt flashed him the red card before a crowd of 32,000 football lovers.

Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali was MAN OF THE MATCH.

Nigeria will play the winner of the Ivory Coast versus DR Congo 2nd semifinals in the finals on Sunday at 9pm after the closing ceremony formalities.

South Africa will play the loser of the Ivory Coast versus DR Congo in the 3rd place match on Saturday at 0pm.

Nigeria is playing a record 15th semifinal match. She has an AFCON record of being at the last four of tournaments 15 times and has never failed to win a medal. Each time the Eagles won Gold three times; won Silver four times; won Bronze 8 times and has never lost in a third place match.

Current African Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen had only one goal in the tournament despite having most shots at goal – 19.

South Africa is playing her 4th semifinal and their first since 2000 when Nigeria beat the “Boys” 2-0.  Their star player Thapelo Maseko is missing this important match due to injury which will make him miss even other matches according to their Coach, Hugo Broos who hinted that Maseko had to leave Bouake immediately to start rehabilitation. 

Let’s list some of the games. They played 0-0 at an AFCON game on 11th September 2004; played 2-2 in AFCON qualifier on 19th November 2004; played another 1-1 draw in a friendly on 29th May 2015; South Africa won the AFCON qualifier match of 10th June 2017 by 2-0 in Calabar; drew 1-1 in the 2nd leg played 17th November 2018 in Jo’Borg; and in their last meeting at AFCON quarterfinals at the Cairo International Stadium, Egypt on 10th June 2019 Nigeria got a 2-1 victory. Chukwueze and Troost-Ekong supplied the Nigerian goals while Zungu scored for South Africa in the match officiated by Ref Redouane Jiyed of Morocco.

South Africa lost to Mali 0-2; bashed Namibia 4-0 and played goalless with Tunisia at group stages of the present tournament; humbled Africa’s number one ranked team, Morocco 2-0 in the Round of 16 and in a high performance penalty shootout ousted the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde 2-1 after the fulltime was goalless in the quarterfinals. She scored 6 goals and conceded 2 goals having 4 clean sheets out of 5 matches.

Nigeria played 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea; beat hosts Cote D’Ivore by a lone goal; also beat Guinea Bissau by a lone goal at the group stages; sent the Cameroonian Lions into their garden in Yaounde 2-0 in the Round of 16 and then piped the mouthy Antelopes of Angola by a lone goal to get to the semifinal. She scored 6 goals and conceded only a goal scored by Equatorial Guinea and like South Africa had 4 clean sheets out of 5 matches. That ordinarily without binoculars is to tell you the game in preview will be dicey hence the fears of Nigeria’s Presidency.

Nigeria ranked 42 in the world and 6th in Africa is making her 26th appearance at AFCON. She is three times champion with some impressive podium finish. She got Bronze at Ethiopia 76 beating Egypt 3-2; bagged another Bronze in Ghana 78 beating Tunisia 2-0; won in Lagos at 1980 beating Algeria 3-0; got the Silver in three consecutive competitions - Ivory Coast 1984 losing to Cameroon 3-1, at Morocco 88 losing again to Cameroon 0-1 and Algeria 90 losing to Algeria by a lone goal.

Nigeria got Bronze at Senegal 92 beating rivals Cameroon 2-1; became champions at Tunisia 94 with a 2-1 win over Zambia; again lost to Cameroon when Nigeria/Ghana hosted in 2000 via 4-3 penalty shootouts after 2-2 scores to bag the Silver; Got the Bronze with a lone goal victory over Mali at Mali 2002;  back to Tunisia in 2004 Nigeria won Bronze with a lone goal victory over Senegal; at Egypt 2006 Nigeria again beat Senegal 1-0 to win the Bronze; in 2010 at Angola Nigeria beat Algeria by a lone goal to win Bronze; she came back at South Africa 2013 under Stephen Keshi to win the trophy beating the Stallions of Burkina Faso by a lone goal scored by Sunday Mba and in 2019 she got the Bronze at Egypt in a lone goal victory over Tunisia. Please note that only podium finish records are presented concerning Nigeria. 

South Africa ranked 66 in the world and 12th in Africa is making her 12th appearance at AFCON. In 1996 South Africa hosted and won 2-0 over Tunisia; she won Silver in 1998 at Burkina Faso losing to Egypt 0-2; South Africa won the Bronze at the Nigeria/Ghana hosting of 2000 beating Tunisia on penalties 4-3 after 2-2 at full time and South Africa hosted in 2013 failing to win a medal.

The Elephants of Ivory Coast is meeting the Leopards of DR Congo in the 2nd semifinal at 9pm later tonight.

The Nigerian Embassy in South Africa had warned Nigerians to celebrate victory against South Africa moderately so as not to provoke any Xenophobia attack relapse but South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) yesterday, Tuesday stated that there was “no history of soccer hooliganism with  the apprehension expressed by the Nigerian Embassy in South Africa”.

“The advisory is regrettable because it seems to create alarm and unnecessary tension between the citizens” of both countries, the statement said. But Legendary Segun Odegbami confirmed the threat from the sidelines of the match venue in Bouake promising that the “Boys” will surely be defeated.

The Third place match for losers at the semifinals is on Saturday at 9pm while the grand finale is scheduled for Sunday at 9pm.  

Super Eagles Peck the Boys of South Africa in the Eye 4-2 on Penalties to Earn a Final AFCON Ticket.

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