The AFCON Semi-Final clash between Nigeria and South Africa witnessed moments of intense action and controversy, particularly in the first half, where a poor referee and VAR decision favored the Super Eagles, altering the course of the match.
In the initial stages of the match, South Africa showcased their attacking prowess and dominated possession, creating several goal-scoring opportunities. Nigeria’s defense, however, remained resolute, with goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali making a crucial save to deny South Africa’s attempts to find the back of the net. Despite the pressure exerted by South Africa, Nigeria managed to maintain a clean sheet through the heroics of their goalkeeper and defensive unit.
Amid South Africa’s offensive onslaught, controversy erupted when Calvin Bassey was involved in a potential penalty incident in Nigeria’s penalty area. After a cross was played in, Bassey appeared to handle the ball, prompting South Africa’s players to appeal vehemently for a penalty. The situation was reviewed by VAR, raising hopes of justice being served. However, to the dismay of South Africa and many spectators, VAR decided not to award a penalty, allowing play to continue
The decision not to award a penalty proved to be a missed opportunity for South Africa, as Calvin Bassey’s handball could have potentially hindered a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The incident noted the subjective nature of VAR decisions and the impact they can have on the outcome of matches. In this instance, South Africa felt aggrieved by the failure of VAR to intervene decisively and rectify the referee’s oversight.
The controversy surrounding the non-penalty decision undoubtedly influenced the dynamics of the first half, altering the momentum and narrative of the match. Nigeria benefited from the referee and VAR’s leniency, South Africa felt unjustly deprived of a chance to capitalize on their attacking prowess and take the lead.