Nigeria reach CAF AFCON final


After an enthralling 1-1 tie that lasted for two hours, Nigeria emerged victorious in a dramatic penalty shootout against South Africa. The Super Eagles secured their spot in the AFCON final with a scoreline of 4-2 on penalties.

This semi-final at Bouake's Stade de la Paix on Wednesday was full of twists and turns that could rival a plot from any Nollywood thriller.

Late on, Victor Osimhen's goal appeared to secure Nigeria's victory until VAR intervened and gave South Africa a crucial penalty.

Bafana Bafana scored the goal that forced extra time, leading to penalties.

Stanley Nwabali's goalkeeping heroics granted Nigeria the advantage in the shootout and secured their spot in Sunday's final with two saves.

While Nwabali celebrated in exultation for Nigeria, South Africa was subjected to an excruciating agony.

Ronwen Williams, the goalkeeper for Bafana Bafana who was able to stop four penalties in the previous round, couldn't be comforted as his hope of participating in AFCON ended.

Hoping to claim their fourth African crown, Nigeria will take on either Cote d'Ivoire or DR Congo this Sunday.

During the cautious first half, Nigeria took the lead with Iwobi's quick movements that challenged Williams. However, his impressive reflexes allowed him to keep the score goalless. South Africa was not far behind in their response as Makgopa almost got one past by curling just wide while Tau couldn't succeed when he had a clear shot on target.

Both keepers took center stage after the break and tension escalated. Makgopa was once more denied acrobatically by Nwabali, while Williams held strong at his end to fend off Osimhen.

The events preceding it paved the way for an intense climax. Osimhen was brought down, resulting in a penalty awarded to Nigeria in the 67th minute that Troost-Ekong magnificently converted.

Nigeria was aggressively seeking the second goal, detecting an opportunity after sensing blood. Osimhen appeared to have successfully scored it but their hopes were dashed when VAR identified a foul earlier in the play. Consequently, South Africa received a chance to level with Mokoena converting from the penalty spot for them.

Therefore, it went to additional time where the players' fatigue hindered their ability to attack fluently. With tired legs and frayed nerves, a penalty shootout seemed unavoidable. Williams and Nwabali subsequently became the focus of attention.

Although Williams accurately predicted the direction of two Nigerian penalties, his hands failed to keep up with his instincts. In contrast, Nwabali showed no compassion and dove successfully to prevent both Mokoena and Mayambela from scoring.

While Nigeria revels in the joy of making it to the final, Williams is overcome with grief. Just four days earlier, he was hailed as a hero; now, he's South Africa's dejected goalkeeper.

With Nwabali's incredible performance in the shootout, Nigeria is just one victory away from clinching their fourth African crown. This has made them a formidable force going into Sunday's final and strong contenders for the title

Post a Comment