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Nigeria Beat South Africa on Penalties to Reach AFCON Finals

 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast.

Nigeria defeated Bafana Bafana of South Africa on penalties in the semi-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake on Wednesday.

After a tense battle that saw both sides deadlocked at one goal apiece during regular play and extra time, Nigeria emerged triumphant in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout, securing a 4-2 win.

The match witnessed a record 15th AFCON semi-final appearance for the Super Eagles, a testament to their enduring prowess on the continent’s football stage. However, it was far from an easy feat, pushing the Nigerian squad to their limits.

Despite facing adversity, including last-minute fitness concerns for key player Victor Osimhen and an injury-enforced lineup change, with Bright Osayi-Samuel stepping in for the sidelined Zaidu Sanusi, Nigeria exhibited resilience and determination throughout the match.

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Initially adopting a 3-4-3 formation, the Super Eagles found themselves grappling with South Africa’s relentless offensive maneuvers, particularly the speed and tactical awareness of Percy Tau and Evidence Makgopa.

However, Nigeria seized the initiative when Mothobi Mvala fouled Osimhen in the South African penalty area, leading to William Troost-Ekong calmly converting the subsequent penalty kick in the 65th minute.

Yet, a dramatic turn of events unfolded as a VAR review nullified what seemed like a goal-scoring moment for Nigeria, instead awarding a penalty to South Africa following a foul by Alhassan Yusuf on Percy Tau.

With the game hanging in the balance, Teboho Mokoena successfully converted the penalty, leveling the score and propelling the match into extra time, ultimately culminating in a tension-filled penalty shootout.

In a series of heart-stopping moments, Mokoena faltered with his kick, while Nigerian goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali showcased his prowess by saving Makgopa’s attempt, paving the way for Kelechi Iheanacho to seal Nigeria’s victory and secure their place in the AFCON final.

The Super Eagles’ remarkable journey in the tournament continues as they set their sights on clinching the coveted AFCON title, buoyed by their unwavering determination and collective spirit on the road to glory.

 

 

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