The match between Nigeria and South Africa met the high expectations of supporters from both teams as well as neutrals, fueled by the intense rivalry that always accompanies their encounters in any competition.
Nigeria were looking to book a spot in the final of the AFCON 2023 as they continue their quest to win the competition for the fourth time while the South Africans were looking to replicate the feat achieved by the 1996 squad. Both teams came into the match with nothing to separate them having kept the same number of clean sheets in the tournament.
The Super Eagles emerged victorious beating the Bafana Bafana 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.
Here are the five talking points from the game;
(1) Stanley Nwabali:
The Chippa United goalkeeper has been a revelation for the Super Eagles at the AFCON 2023. He broke into the team having replaced Francis Uzoho who had been poor heading into the tournament.
Nwabali was key in helping the Super Eagles reach the final of the AFCON having made some impressive saves to stop the South Africans from finding the back of the net. He also showed his heroic performance during the penalty shoot-outs by saving three spot kicks.
(2) Poor Midfield:
The Super Eagles for the first time met a team that could match them for pace and tactics. Bafana Bafana were able to expose the shortcomings of the Super Eagles in the game and that might be a big problem in the final match of the competition.
(3) William Troost-Ekong:
The captain of the Super Eagles ensured that Nigeria qualified for the final of the AFCON 2023 as they look to win the competition for the fourth time. Ekong scored the opening goal of the game from the penalty spot after Victor Osimhen was fouled in the penalty box by a South African defender. He has taken his goal tally in the tournament to two.
(4) Victor Osimhen:
The Napoli forward player has been a menace to the defenders of the opposition team in the tournament. He has scored just one goal for the Super Eagles but he has done more than just finding the back of the net which has made him a key part of Nigeria’s success so far in the tournament.
(5) Team Spirit:
The Super Eagles showed a different side of the team when the game went into penalty shoot-outs. The players who have not played any minute in the competition, they showed the mentality of the team when they were called up in the extra time to take penalties.