iexclusivenews – The Super Eagles of Nigeria soared to the final of the African Cup of Nations after a thrilling 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
The match was full of twists and turns, as both teams scored and missed goals, and a controversial VAR decision changed the course of the game.
Nigeria Takes the Lead with a Penalty
The first half of the match was goalless, as both teams struggled to create clear chances.
The deadlock was broken in the 67th minute, when Nigeria was awarded a penalty after Victor Osimhen, the African Player of the Year, was fouled by Mothobi Mvala in the box.
The captain of the Super Eagles, William Troost-Ekong, stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the middle of the net, sending the goalkeeper Ronwen Williams the wrong way.
VAR Drama Denies Nigeria a Second Goal
Nigeria thought they had doubled their lead in the 77th minute, when Osimhen scored a stunning goal from a pass by Samuel Chukwueze.
The striker showed great composure and skill to fire a low shot into the left corner of the goal.
However, the referee consulted the VAR and ruled out the goal, citing a foul by Chukwueze on Thapelo Morena in the build-up.
To add to Nigeria’s frustration, the referee also awarded a penalty to South Africa, as he spotted a handball by Troost-Ekong in the box.
South Africa Equalizes with a Penalty
South Africa seized the opportunity to level the score, as Teboho Mokoena converted the penalty with a powerful shot into the bottom left corner, beating the Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili.
The Bafana Bafana fans erupted in joy, as they hoped for a comeback.
South Africa Wastes a Golden Chance
The momentum seemed to shift to South Africa, as they pressed for a winner.
In the 85th minute, they had a golden chance to take the lead, when Evidence Makgopa found himself in a one-on-one situation with Nwabili.
The young forward dribbled past the defender and unleashed a shot, but it went high over the bar, missing a glorious opportunity.
Extra Time and Penalties
The match went into extra time, as neither team could find the decisive goal in the remaining minutes.
The extra time was tense and exciting, as both teams had chances to score.
In the 105th minute, Nigeria had a free kick at the edge of the box, after Moffi was brought down by Mvala.
The South African midfielder received a red card for his tackle, leaving his team with 10 men.
However, Nigeria could not capitalize on the free kick, as Williams made a brilliant save.
The match was decided by penalties, as both teams failed to score in the extra time.
Nigeria showed more nerve and accuracy in the shootout, as they scored four out of five penalties, while Nwabili saved two penalties from South Africa.
The Super Eagles celebrated their victory, as they advanced to the final of the AFCON, where they will face the winner of the other semifinal between Ivory Coast and DR Congo.
Nigeria Eyes Another AFCON Trophy
Nigeria’s performance in the AFCON has been impressive, as they have won all their matches so far.
The Super Eagles have shown resilience, skill, and teamwork, as they have overcome tough opponents.
Nigeria will be aiming to win their fourth AFCON trophy, and their first since 2013.
The final will be played on Sunday, February 11, 2024, at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.