Nigeria secured a 4-2 penalty shootout triumph over South Africa in a captivating Africa Cup of Nations semi-final showdown in Bouake, thanks to substitute Kelechi Iheanacho’s decisive goal.The match ended in a 1-1 draw after extra time, with both regular-time goals coming from penalties.
Nigeria’s captain, William Troost-Ekong, broke the deadlock after 67 minutes, only for Teboho Mokoena to level the score from the spot in the 90th minute.
The drama intensified when Nigeria thought they had secured a second goal through Victor Osimhen, only for VAR to intervene, awarding South Africa a penalty after Percy Tau was fouled in the box.
Despite chances for both sides, including a missed opportunity for South Africa’s Khuliso Mudau, who blazed over in added time, the deadlock couldn’t be broken, leading to a tense penalty shootout.
Grant Kekana’s red card in the 115th minute further shifted momentum in Nigeria’s favor, as South Africa finished the match with 10 men.
Nigeria, with a flawless record against South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations, now advances to the final, where they will face the winner of the Ivory Coast vs. Democratic Republic of Congo match.
Jose Peseiro’s side, buoyed by the return of Osimhen from injury, showcased resilience and determination throughout the match, overcoming challenges to emerge victorious.
Both teams displayed a spirited performance, with South Africa matching Nigeria’s attacking prowess, but ultimately it was Iheanacho’s decisive strike that sealed Nigeria’s place in the final.