Chippa United's goalkeeper justified his position as Nigeria's undisputed number 1 in the Super Eagles' 4-2 victory over the stubborn Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the first semifinal match of the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023, played at the Olympic Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire.
The highly tense match saw a goalless first half. Victor Osimhen was on a dribbling run from the right flank when he was brought down in the box. On-field captain and PAOK defender, William Troost-Ekong, scored from the spot in the 67th minute. Goalkeeper Williams got the direction but was fractions late for Nigeria’s first goal.
In the 86th minute, African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, thought he had scored, but the goal was reversed after consultations with VAR by Referee Amin Mohammed Omar of Egypt.
Nigeria lost concentration and conceded a shocking penalty in the 90th minute, which Mamelodi Sundowns player Teboho Mokoena skillfully beat goalkeeper Nwabali for the equalizer. Mokoena had scored against Morocco.
Substitute Terem Moffi was hacked down at the periphery of the penalty box in a goal-bound move by Grant Kekana in the 115th minute. Referee Omar of Egypt flashed him the red card before a crowd of 32,000 football lovers. The testy game ended one goal apiece as Leicester City's top striker, Kelechi Iheanacho, scored the winning goal with a decisive penalty kick, pushing the Super Eagles into the final with a 4-2 victory.
Nigeria’s coach Jose Peseiro tactically changed some players, including removing Osimhen and bringing in Iheanacho and Omeruo, but retained Stanley Nwabali, showing trust in him as he caught two balls from the kicks. Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, was named the "Man of The Match."
Nigeria will play the winner of the Ivory Coast versus DR Congo second semifinal in the finals on Sunday at 9 p.m. South Africa will play the loser of the Ivory Coast versus DR Congo in the third-place match on Saturday at 0 p.m.
Nigeria is playing a record 15th AFCON semifinal match, with an outstanding record of reaching the last four 15 times and never failing to win a medal. The Eagles have won Gold three times, Silver four times, Bronze eight times, and have never lost in a third-place match.
Current African Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen, had only one goal in the tournament despite having the most shots at goal – 19.
South Africa is playing their fourth semifinal and their first since 2000 when Nigeria beat them 2-0. Their star player Thapelo Maseko is missing this important match due to injury, and their Coach, Hugo Broos, hinted that Maseko had to leave Bouake immediately to start rehabilitation.