Nigeria have advanced to the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Bafana Bafana at the Stade de la Paix on Wednesday evening.
The build-up to the game brought fireworks off the pitch but calmness was exercised from the coaches Hugo Broos and Jose Peseiro, who played their cards close to their chest.
Both had a player ruled out with injury in the form of left-sided players Zaidu Sanusi and Thapelo Maseko, while Victor Osimhen passed a late fitness test.
Nigeria came into the game, not only as favourites to win the match but also the title favourites in the last four consisting of Bafana, DR Congo and hosts Ivory Coast.
Their superiority wasn’t shown on the pitch as South Africa went toe-to-toe with the 3-4-3 tactical system, as Siyanda Xulu was brought in for Thapelo Morena.
At the break it remained goalless in a fairly even game, but Bafana could have easily had two goals after breaking through the Super Eagles defence on multiple occasions.
The West Africans made sure to punish Hugo Broos’ side and it was Mothobi Mvala who brought down Victor Osimhen who showed his physical prowess and engineer space inside the area.
Captain William Troost Ekong, who ironically scored the goal in Cairo back in 2019 to dump Bafana out the quarter-finals stepped up to open the scoring.
Broos responded with Mihali Mayambela and Zakhele Lepasa coming on for Themba Zwane and Siyanda Xulu to chase the game and it seemed as it was too little too late when Osimhen tapped one home to make it 2-0 after a swift counterattack.
But upon VAR review, South Africa received a penalty at the other end and went on equaliser through Teboho Mokoena.
Mokoena was then at the thick of things in stoppage time when his free-kick was parried from Stanley Nwabali to Khuliso Mudau, but his point-blank range effort went skied over the crossbar which saw the game go to extra time.
There weren’t many talking points in extra-time but Grant Kekana got sent off for a last-man tackle on Terem Moffi.
This time around, though, Stanley Nwabali was the hero as he saved spot-kicks from Mokoena and Makgopa to send the Super Eagles into the final.
The Super Eagles now advance to the final, where they will meet the Elephants or The Leopards in Abidjan this weekend.