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Nigeria And Ivory Coast To Lock Horns In AFCON Final

Nigeria defeated South Africa 4–2 in a shootout, with Stanley Nwabali saving two penalties to secure Nigeria’s spot in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON )final.

Nigeria entered the continental finals having lost five of their previous six semifinal matches, but they overcame some anxious moments to secure a spot in the championship match on Sunday against the two-time winners, Ivory Coast.

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST – FEBRUARY 7: Ibrahim Sangare of Ivory Coast with post game celebration during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match between Ivory Coast and DR Congo at Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe on February 7, 2024 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Midway through the second half, William Troost-Ekong gave Nigeria the lead with a penalty kick. Teboho Mokoena of South Africa then won a spot kick in the final minute of play, which he scored to tie the score at one.

After defender Grant Kekana was sent off in extra time due to Nigeria’s relentless pressure, South Africa lost composure in the penalty shootout when Nwabali outclassed Ronwen Williams, who had previously saved four penalties in the team’s quarterfinal victory over Cape Verde.
In order to guarantee that the three-time champions would play host country Ivory Coast in the final on Sunday, Nwabali first stopped Evidence Makgopa’s attempt from the center of the field with a diving bottom left move.

Victor Osimhen, a Nigerian star, appeared to be in discomfort when he doubled over during the start of the game in Bouak. Osimhen’s stomach ailment caused concern prior to the game, but he was able to play again after a short break.

The first meaningful chance fell to Percy Tau, who fired straight at Nwabali. A few minutes later, Tau broke through and Nwabali made a fantastic save to keep Makgopa’s strike from nestling in the top corner. Midway through the second half, Mothobi Mvala gave up a penalty for a foul on Osimhen, giving Nigeria their opening.

Williams tried his hardest to stop the spot kick from crossing the line with an outstretched leg, but Captain William Troost-Ekong coolly drilled it home in the 67th minute.

Osimhen believed he had won it all late, but a VAR review revealed that Alhassan Yusuf had fouled Tau in the area, giving South Africa a last-minute penalty.

In the ninetieth minute, Mokoena converted a penalty kick to tie the score, and in stoppage time, Khuliso Mudau missed a fantastic opportunity to complete the victory for South Africa. AFCON FINAL

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