Nigeria reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday after a tense semi against South Africa which went the distance.
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Victor Osimhen threatened to miss Wednesday’s crunch fixture and Nigeria fans will have reeled in horror at the sight of him clutching his abdomen mere seconds into the match. But the Napoli talisman deemed himself fit to continue and made his mark in the second half. After several near-misses with his head, the African Player of the Year used his feet to leave the Bafana Bafana defence perplexed. Namely, Mothobi Mvala, who couldn’t deal with Osimhen’s pace and clattered the striker, leading to a clear penalty. As he did against Ivory Coast, captain William Troost-Ekong stepped up, squeezing his spot kick underneath the sprawling Ronwen Williams.
Osimhen thought he had rounded out his fine performance with a late tap-in but a VAR check caused incredible drama in Bouake. The Napoli star’s strike was ruled out and South Africa were awarded a penalty following substitute Alhassan Yusuf’s rash challenge. Teboho Mokoena duly dispatched and set up some nervy closing stages for Nigeria, who clung on before an end-to-end extra-time period. Grant Kekana was sent off late on for South Africa after another VAR check, with penalties ultimately needed to separate the two sides. Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as Stanley Nwabali starred in goal to send the Super Eagles through.
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