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Nigeria and Ivory Coast advance, one step from African Championship title

Posted : 08 February 2024

The Super Eagles secured their place in the African Championship final after a dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout victory against South Africa, following a 1-1 draw in regular time. This marked Nigeria's eighth appearance in the tournament final, the first since their title-winning campaign in 2013. 

The decisive moment came in the 86th minute when Victor Osimhen's goal was initially allowed but later disallowed by VAR due to a foul on Percy Tau. Thibhu Mukuana converted a penalty, equalizing for South Africa and sending the match into extra time.

VAR continued to play a pivotal role in extra time, with South Africa's Grant Kakana receiving a red card after VAR intervention. The game ultimately went to a penalty shootout, where Nigeria emerged victorious 4-2, securing their spot in the final. Despite the absence of Osimhen, who had been substituted earlier, the Super Eagles displayed resilience, with goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili making crucial saves.

In the other semi-final, Ivory Coast secured their place in the final by defeating R.D. Congo 1-0. Dortmund striker Sebastian Haller, making his first start in the tournament, scored a spectacular acrobatic goal in the 65th minute. Ivory Coast, as hosts, reached the final for the first time in 18 years and will face Nigeria for the championship. Both teams had met previously in the group stage, with Nigeria winning 1-0.

Nigeria's defensive strength, conceding only one goal in five games, has been a key factor in their journey to the final. The Super Eagles showcased resilience and determination, overcoming VAR drama and challenges. 

The penalty shootout saw defender Ole Ayana as the only Nigerian to miss, while goalkeeper Nwabili made crucial stops. Ivory Coast, under coach Amars Fay, has experienced a significant turnaround and now stands one victory away from claiming the trophy on home soil.


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