Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty as Nigeria booked their place in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a 4-2 shootout win over South Africa. The intense encounter ended 1-1 after regular time. A dramatic turn happened when Victor Osimhen’s goal was disallowed through video review. This resulted in a penalty for South Africa. Teboho Mokoena converted a penalty in the 90th minute, forcing the game into extra time. In extra time, Bafana Bafana’s Grant Kekana received a late red card.
Despite South Africa’s spirited performance, Nigeria’s goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali emerged as the hero. He saved two crucial penalties, securing the Super Eagles’ triumph. William Troost-Ekong initially opened the scoring for Nigeria. He did so with a well-placed penalty midway through the second half. Now, the West Africans advance to the final. They await either hosts Ivory Coast or the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Sunday. They hope to clinch their fourth continental title and the first since 2013.
Nigeria has a perfect Nations Cup record against South Africa. They entered the match as favorites. However, the first half largely belonged to South Africa. Percy Tau squandered a notable opportunity. Nigeria’s lack of potency was evident in the statistics. Osimhen managed just nine touches in the half.
In the second half, Nigeria played with determination. They broke the deadlock in the 67th minute when Troost-Ekong converted a penalty. Osimhen was fouled in the box. Late VAR drama unfolded. Osimhen’s apparent winning goal was disallowed. This led to a penalty for South Africa. Mokoena calmly converted it, denying Nigeria five consecutive clean sheets.
Extra time brought additional excitement. Kekana’s red card sealed Nigeria’s place in the final. Iheanacho’s winning penalty in the shootout also helped. The Super Eagles now await their opponent. The desire to reclaim the continental title fuels them. As they gear up for the final showdown, Nigeria aims to etch their name in history once again. They’ll strive for a stellar performance on Sunday.