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Super Eagles player ratings: Nwabali saviour; Ajayi solid; Ekong leader; Osimhen selfless; Iheanacho decisive

Nigeria booked their place in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations courtesy of a penalty shoot-out victory over South Africa.

Allnigeriasoccer runs the rule over the Nigerian players involved in the game.

 

The starters

 

Goalkeeper

Stanley Nwabali: The Chippa United shot-stopper made a fantastic save to deny South Africa the opener in the first half, was lucky to get away with a poor save before the end of the normal regulation time, and would go on to save two penalties in the penalty shootout. 9/10

Defenders

 

Semi Ajayi: Arguably Nigeria’s standout player in the first half. The West Brom center-back put on a good defensive show and made some well timed challenges, winning most of the duels he contested.  8./10

 

William Troost-Ekong: Yet again led by example, marshaling the defense line and stepping up to convert the only goal during the normal regulation time from the penalty spot and replicating the same during the penalty shootouts. 8/5/10

 

Calvin Bassey: The Fulham center-back was astute yet again in his duties though could have done better on some occasions when he lost his man. 7/10

Midfielders

 

Bright Osayi-Samuel: Started the game due to the injury to Zaidu Sanusi and the Fenerbahçe right-back made good use of the opportunity. He could have registered an assist, no thanks to VAR intervention. 7.5/10

 

Ola Aina: Slotted in for Sanusi at left wing-back and didn’t look out of place though his performance today couldn’t match that of his previous games having failed to impress when in offensive positions. 6.5/10

 

Frank Onyeka: He was great once again, breaking up play, picking the right passes, shielding the ball properly, and bursting forward impressively. 8/10

Alex Iwobi: The Fulham midfielder was dire having failed to influence the game offensively and defensively, not surprised that he was brought off early  5.5/10

Forwards

Ademola Lookman:  The Atalanta forward wasn’t at his best and should have gotten his 4th goal of the tournament but was cost by his poor decision  5.5/10

Victor Osimhen: The Napoli forward was a constant outlet in attack yet again, kept troubling the Bafana Bafana defense, won the penalty that led to Nigeria’s only goal of the game, and was denied another by the VAR. 7.5/10

Moses Simon: The Nantes forward had a poor game as he failed to make things happen in the final third and was deservedly brought off in the 62nd minute. 5.5/10

 

The substitutes

Alhassan Yusuf: Committed the foul that led to the South Africa equaliser but besides that blemish, he did well, pressing when needed and picking the right passes. 5/10

Samuel Chukwueze: He was the most impactful of the substitutes, always looking to spot a  teammate with his incisive passes and working his socks off defensively. 7/10

 

Terem Moffi: He was responsible for the red card given to Grant Kekana and took his penalty well  7/10

Kelechi Iheanacho: Got chances to put himself on the scoresheet with one being from a free kick but was denied. He assuredly converted the last penalty kick that handed the Super Eagles victory 7/10

Kenneth Omeruo: Was brought on to be involved in the penalty shoot-outs and his kick was arguably the best of the night.

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