February 07, (THEWILL) – A dramatic penalty shootout was required to separate Nigeria and South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final on Wednesday, with Nigeria eventually prevailing 4-2 on spot kicks to book their place in Sunday’s final.
The Super Eagles had taken the lead in normal time through a William Troost-Ekong penalty, awarded after star striker, Victor Osimhen, was brought down in the area. However, South Africa equalised late on with a penalty of their own, as Teboho Mokoena made no mistake to force extra time.
With no further goals in the additional 30 minutes, penalties were needed to decide who would face either Ivory Coast or DR Congo in the final. After both sides traded early misses, it fell to Leicester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, to stroke home the winning penalty and send his nation into ecstasy.
Earlier, clear-cut chances had been few and far between in a cagey opening period. Evidence Makgopa went closest for Bafana Bafana with a curling effort tipped away, while Osimhen headed over at the other end as Nigeria gradually took control after halftime.
Osimhen thought he had wrapped up the win when he turned in a second late on, only for it to be ruled out by VAR and South Africa awarded their late penalty. Ultimately it mattered little though, as Nigeria held firm, with a solid outing by Stanley Nwabali, when it mattered most to prevail in the shootout. They now stand one win away from ending their wait for a 4th AFCON glory.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.