AFCON: 5 things we learnt as Super Eagles defeat South Africa to qualify for final

AFCON: 5 things we learnt as Super Eagles defeat South Africa to qualify for final

Nigeria have progressed to the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, after seeing off South Africa via penalties on Wednesday.

Two second-half goals ensured the two teams were level after 90 minutes and extra time.

However, the Super Eagles were able to keep their nerves and win 4-2 during the penalty shoot-out.

What are the five things we learnt from the game?

1. Troost-Ekong is a captain par excellence: For the second time in this tournament, Nigeria’s captain stepped up to take a crucial penalty within a game. And again, there was ice in his veins and he made no mistakes. Added to that, Troost-Ekong has been a real presence at the back, conceding only twice – the lowest at the AFCON.

2. VAR has been top notch: There was a time in the second half, when the Super Eagles thought they had the game wrapped up, after Victor Osimhen tapped into an empty net. But VAR intervened and took play back to a foul committed by Yusuf Alhassan, with the referee subsequently pointing to the spot. Another fine decision. The technology has been widely praised for its efficiency and accuracy since the competition began.

3. Nwabali is in line for a big move: Most of the talk ahead of the game was warning the Super Eagles not to allow it get to a penalty shoot-out. This was because of the historic four saves Ronwen Williams made in their quarter-final clash against Cape Verde. But Stanley Nwabali was the goalkeeper who came up tops, making crucial saves during the game and the shoot-out.

4. Peseiro needs to trust his bench: Nigeria finished the game without Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman and Alex Iwobi on the bench. Jose Peseiro, for the first time at the AFCON, summoned Kelechi Iheanacho and Terem Moffi from the bench in extra time. And both forwards were instrumental to the team’s progress to the final, also converting their spot-kicks.

5. Ivory Coast/DR Congo in the way: Sunday’s final will give Nigeria the chance to win their fourth continental trophy. And you have to admit they are strong favourites for it.

However, they have to battle either hosts Ivory Coast or DR Congo, to create history.

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