Sports

Five things we learned from Nigeria’s victory over South Africa in the AFCON semi-final

The Super Eagles put up a solid performance to ensure that they emerged on top at the Stade de la Paix 

The Super Eagles of Nigeria had to wait for a penalty shoot-out to confirm their status as finalists for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Soccernet.ng reports.

Willam Troost-Ekong scored the opener in the 67th minute, but Teboho Mokoena scored the controversial equalizer in the 69th minute to drag the game into extra-time and penalties.

In the penalty shoot-out, Nigeria scored four, while South Africa scored 2. This ensured that Nigeria qualified for the next round.

Soccernet.ng picks five important points from the fixture.

1. Nwabali is the real deal

Stanley Nwabali worked for his wages on the night. It was his biggest game yet, and he performed outstandingly well. Aside from his penalty save, he had a brilliant performance in normal time. He even made big saves to keep the Super Eagles in the game.

2. Again, Osimhen is still important to our quest

If anything, Victor Osimhen has proved his importance to the Super Eagles in this tournament. He had a slow start, but he has grown into the tournament since the knockout rounds. He has been involved in all of Nigeria’s goals and he turned up clutch again on Wednesday, winning a penalty.

3. Jose Peseiro should tweak his lineup

It was evident from the game that some Nigerian players were fatigued. Ademola Lookman uncharacteristically lost the ball in the midfield a few times, Iwobi struggled with the pace of the game, and Moses Simon was clearly not at his best.

There have been a lot of complaints about Peseiro’s setup, and he may have to tweak his lineup a little to keep his players fresh.

4. Troost-Ekong is a true leader

Troost-Ekong had another great game for Nigeria. He led well from the back for the Super Eagles and had some great tackles. His decision-making was great, and he showed maturity whenever he was needed.

5. Nigeria have to fortify themselves mentally if they want to win the AFCON

The Super Eagles were great, but they could have easily lost the game. After Nigeria’s goal was ruled out and South Africa were awarded a penalty, the Super Eagles lost it for a while. It was a letdown for Peseiro’s men, and they could have lost the game.

In the final, the Super Eagles will be playing against the Ivory Coast and Ivory Coast fans. This could drain the mentally. As such, they have to work on their mentality.