Nigeria edged out South Africa 4-2 on penalties, securing their place in the final following a 1-1 draw that extended into a goalless extra time. The match, held in Bouake, was a rollercoaster of emotions, featuring a late VAR decision that shifted the game’s momentum and led to the dramatic penalty shootout.
The tension was palpable from the start, but it was Nigeria who emerged victorious, thanks to Kelechi Iheanacho’s decisive penalty kick. The game was marked by a controversial moment towards the end of regular time when Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen had a goal disallowed after a VAR review, which also awarded South Africa a penalty. Teboho Mokoena coolly converted the spot-kick for Bafana Bafana, equalizing and pushing the match into extra time.
The match saw its share of drama, with South Africa’s Grant Kekana receiving a red card late in extra time. Despite being down a man, South Africa fought valiantly but ultimately fell short in the shootout, with Nigeria’s goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali saving two crucial penalties.
William Troost-Ekong, who had earlier put Nigeria ahead with a penalty, looked to lead his team to their fourth continental title, a feat Nigeria has not achieved since 2013. The match was a testament to both teams’ resilience, with South Africa dominating the first half but Nigeria finding their rhythm in the second.
Nigeria now awaits the winner of the match between Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo to see who they will face in the quest for the AFCON 2023 championship.