February 4, 2024

AFCON 2023: Nigeria, S/Africa renew rivalry in semifinal clash

Nigerian Football - Stuck in the mud of leadership!, by Segun Odegbami

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South Africa’s Bafana Bafana will renew their football rivalry with Nigeria’s Super Eagles in the semi-final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Feb. 7 at Stade De Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire, at 6.00 p.m. Nigerian time.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria and South Africa have met 15 times in competitive football since 1992.

The Super Eagles have won eight of such encounters, while the Bafana Bafana won two, with both teams drawing on five occasions.

The Bafana Bafana secured their place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2000.

Nigeria had earlier secured passage to the semi-finals of the AFCON after a hard-fought 1-0 win over giant-killers Angola in Abidjan on Friday.

The Super Eagles were eagerly waiting to face the winner of Saturday’s quarter-final between Cape Verde and South Africa for a place in the semi-final.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the hero as South Africa beat Cape Verde 5-3 on penalties following a goalless 120 minutes to advance to the AFCON semi-finals.

After a tense last eight clash ended 0-0 at the Charles Konan Banny Stadium in Yamoussoukro on Saturday night, Williams remarkably saved four spot-kicks in the shootout to send Bafana Bafana through.

Both sides started brightly in an open first half, but stellar defending and top-class goalkeeping from Williams and Cape Verde’s Vozinha kept the game goalless at the break.

The second half followed a similar pattern as the teams traded blows in search of the breakthrough.

However, a combination of desperation and brilliant defending saw numerous chances go begging.

Cape Verde almost stole it in added time when Gelson Tavares pounced on a deep ball only to smash his shot off the bar with Williams getting a hand to it for a 0-0 scoreline after 90 minutes and extra time.

The additional 30 minutes brought more chances, with South Africa’s Fagrie Lakay forcing a superb save from Vozinha.

But the deadlock remained to send the quarter-final into penalties which saw South Africa emerge victorious at the end to dump out Cape Verde from the ongoing 2023 AFCON tournament.

The tourney which began on Jan. 13 in Cote d’Ivoire will end on Feb. 11. (NAN)