Global Affairs Magazine

Super Eagles qualify for AFCON final after defeating South Africa on penalties

Super Eagles qualify for AFCON final after defeating South Africa on penalties
  • PublishedFebruary 8, 2024

Super Eagles of Nigeria have defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa 4-2 on penalties to qualify for the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The match finished 1-1 after extra time and the three-time champions will face hosts Ivory Coast in the final on Sunday.

Both regular-time goals also came from penalties with captain William Troost-Ekong scoring after 67 minutes for Nigeria and Teboho Mokoena equalised from a 90th-minute spot-kick.

The Mokoena equaliser came after Nigeria thought they had scored a second goal through a tap-in from star forward Victor Osimhen.

But play was called back to the other end of the field after VAR alerted the Egyptian referee that South African Percy Tau had been fouled in the area, and the match official concurred.

Khuliso Mudau had a chance to win the South Africa in added time at the end of regular time, but blazed over after goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali parried a Mokoena free kick.

South Africa finished with 10 men when Grant Kekana was sent off on 115 minutes for a last-defender foul.

Nigeria entered the match with a perfect record against South Africa in the premier African football competition having won three previous meetings.

The Super Eagles beat Bafana Bafana (The Boys) 2-0 in a 2000 semi-final in Nigeria, 4-0 in a group match four years later in Tunisia and 2-1 in a 2019 quarter-final in Egypt.

Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro made one change to the team that beat Angola 1-0, bringing in Bright Osayi-Samuel for left-back Zaidu Sanusi, who did not train on the eve of the match.

Star Napoli forward Osimhen started for the three-time champions after recovering from an abdominal discomfort that delayed his arrival in Bouake from Abidjan.

– Osimhen scare –

Some Nigerians in the stadium demonstrated their support for Osimhen by wearing replicas of the protective facial mask he still dons three years after suffering an eye socket injury.

Belgium-born South Africa coach Hugo Broos also made one change after victory on penalties over Cape Verde with central defender Siyanda Xulu recalled and Thapelo Morena dropping to the bench.

South Africa had an equal number of shots at goal, but more on target, greater possession, and forced more corners in a tense, lively opening half.

Barely a minute after the kick-off, reigning African Player of the Year Osimhen knelt clutching his abdomen, but he continued after treatment and worked tirelessly.

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When pre-match favourites Nigeria were awarded a free-kick, Semi Ajayi headed tamely at goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who saved four shootout penalties against Cape Verde.

Percy Tau had a couple of half-chances for South Africa, but a weak shot and later a heavy first touch let him down before a 32,000 crowd.

Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali, who plays for South African top-flight club Chippa United, produced a good one-hand parry to foil Evidence Makgopa as half-time approached.

With the Super Eagles in the ascendancy, the deadlock ended midway through the second half when Mothobi Mvala fouled Osimhen and Troost-Ekong converted the penalty.

Makgopa fired narrowly wide with 15 minutes remaining as South Africa chased an equaliser in the central Ivorian city.

Then came the disallowed Osimhen goal, the Mokoena equaliser, the Mudau miss and 30 minutes of end-to-end extra time action, including a red card for Kekana, before the shootout.

FT: Nigeria 1-1 South Africa (4-2 on penalties)

Iheanacho scores. Nigeria qualifies!!!

South Africa scores. Nigeria 3-2 South Africa.

Troost scores. Nigeria 3-1 South Africa.

South Africa takes their third kick. Nwabali dives and saves. Nigeria 2-1 South Africa.

Ola Aina skies the ball over the bar. Nigeria 2-1 South Africa

South Africa scores. Nigeria 2-1 South Africa

Omeruo scored to give Nigeria a two-goal lead. Nigeria 2-0 South Africa

Mokoena loses his kick.

Terem Moffi scores. Nigeria 1-0 South Africa.

Penalty shootout

FT (AET): Nigeria 1-1 South Africa

120′ 2 minutes added time.

119′ Corner kick for Nigeria but South Africa launch a counter from it with Ekong bringing down the attacking South African player to avert danger.

116′ Iheanacho takes the freekick but it goes straight into the hands of Williams.

114′ VAR Check after Moffi is brought down inches away from the box awards a free-kick to Nigeria.

109′ SUBSTITUTION: Terrem Moffi comes on for Osimhen

105′ 2nd half of extra time commences with Nigeria having an early chance to take the lead but Osimhen’s header is a little bit high.

HT: Nigeria 1-1 South Africa

103′ Osimhen with a chance dealt with by Mokoena as he clears for safety for South Africa.

100′ SUBSTITUTION: Joe Aribo and Kelechi Iheanacho come on for Frank Onyeka and Ademola Lookman.


92′ Percy Tau with a chance through on goal but Semi Ajayi kept him uncomfortable till he dispossessed the South African forward of the ball.

90′ First half of Extra Time begins

FT: Nigeria 1-1 South Africa. Extra time next.

90+5′ Freekick for South Africa, taken directly but Nwabali punches it out for a rebound that goes over the bar.

90+4′ South African attack is all over the Super Eagles backline scrambling for a winner.

90′ 6 minutes added on.

87′ Mokoena converts from the spot for South Africa. Nigeria 1-1 South Africa.

83′ Osimhen scores! But VAR overrules after Alhassan Yusuf had brought down a South African player in the Super Eagles box in the build up to Osimhen’s overruled goal. Penalty for South Africa.

78′ Percy Tau with an inswinger from a freekick that is punched away by Nwabali


69′ Lookman curls a freekick inside the box but the South African defence clears for saety.

67′ Percy Tau fires a shot from outside the box but goes wide.

65′ Ekong scores from the spot! Nigeria 1-0 South Africa

62′ Penalty for Nigeria after Osimhen is brought down in the box.

60′ SUBSTITUTION: Samuel Chukwueze comes on for Moses Simon; Alex Iwobi off for Alhassan Yusuf.

60′ Onyeka fires a shot that trails off the goalpost for a goalkick for South Africa.

56′ Osimhen with a header that goes above the roof.

53′ Percy Tau with another chance for South Africa from outside the box but his shot is wide.

52′ Makgopa with a foul on Onyeka. Freekick for Nigeria from inside the Super Eagles half

50′ End-to-end stuff from both teams since the start of the first half.

45′ Proceedings resume for the second half

HT: Nigeria 0-0 South Africa

45′ Osimhen with a header that goes wide for a South Africa goalkick

43′ Corner kick for Nigeria after a fine string of offensive play.

38′ Makgopa with a ferocious curler saved by the tip of Nwabali.

35′ Iwobi with a shooting chance from outside the box but his attempt is saved easily by Williams.

33′ South Africa with a corner but Sithole’s header is weak it trails off for a goal kick for Nigeria.


27′ Percy Tau with a weak shot from inside the box that is saved by Nwabali. Bafana Bafana with the momentum in the game currently.


25′ South Africa launch a dangerous attack but a long stretch from Ola Aina in the box keeps Nigeria safe in the game.

24′ Lookman takes the freekick trying to connect to his teammates in the box, but Aina’s header is dealt with by Ronwen Williams in goal for South Africa.

21′ Makgopa intercepts Onyeka in a dangerous position. Nigeria with a freekick from close range.

17′ Onyeka with a foul on Sithole. A freekick to South Africa.

13′ Sithole with a shot from outside the box for South Africa which is saved calmly by Nwabali

8′ Semi Ajayi with a fine move down the flank, but his cross way over the heads of his teammates in the box. So far, Super Eagles with more of the possession.

1′ Victor Osimhen with an early chance, intercepted by the South African defence

1′ Match begins

Nigeria and South Africa are set to lock horns on as they slug it out for a place in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

This will, however, be the fourth encounter between both sides in the AFCON, with the Super Eagles winning the previous three games with an aggregate score of 8-1.

So far, both sides have had an impressive run to the semi-final – though with Nigeria edging South Africa as the Super Eagles remain unbeaten while Bafana Bafana suffered an early loss against Mali.

Going into the game, the Super Eagles of Nigeria head coach Jose Peseiro made only one change to his starting line up against South Africa with Bright Osayi-Samuel replacing Zaidu Sanusi who is ruled out of the clash due to a knock.

The Portuguese gaffer maintained faith with his 3-4-3 formation with impressive Stanley Nwabali in goal; William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey in defence.

Right at the middle of the park, Alex Iwobi, Frank Onyeka, Osayi-Samuel and Ola Aina make up the cast.

While in attack Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon and Ademola Lookman will be looking to get in the goals for the Super Eagles.

Nigeria XI vs South Africa:

Stanley Nwabali, William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey, Ola Aina, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ademola Lookman, Moses Simon and Ademola Lookman.

Written By
Regina Robinson

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