NIGERIA’S Super Eagles have qualified for the semi-finals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations after beating South Africa’s Bafana Bafana tonight in a pulsating quarter final clash at the Cairo International Stadium.
Despite being in control of the match, the Eagles made hard work of what should have been an easy victory, relying on an 89th winner from centreback William Ekong to win the game. With this victory, the Eagle will now face the winner of the Algeria versus Ivory Coast game on Sunday in the semi final.
Earlier today, South Africa started brightly but after about 15 minutes, the Eagles took charge of the game with Ahmed Musa troubling Bafana Bafana with his pace. Makeshift rightback Chigozie Awaziem was also getting forward constantly and it was thus no surprise that the Eagles took the lead in the 27th minute through Samuel Chukwueze.
After some brilliant work in midfield, Alex Iwobi, cut the ball back for Chukwueze, Chukwueze bundled past Ronwen Williams in goal for South Africa. After that, the Eagles squandered several good chances to extend their lead but were always in control of the game and South Africa were fortunate to go in at halftime just a goal down.
Upon resumption, however, the Eagles took their foot off the gas, allowing Bafana Bafana to come into the game. Although South Africa had more possession, they did not actually threaten Nigeria’s goal as everything was played in front of the Eagles defence.
However, in the 71st minute, South Africa got a stroke of luck as a freekick hit off Odion Ighalo and bounced into the path of Bongani Zungu, who headed home from an offside position. Despite him being offside, the goal stood after an intensive Video Assistant Referee (Var) check as the ball came off a Nigerian player before reaching Zungu.
Providing the Eagles with the tonic they needed to wake up from their slumber, the goal got them playing again as they drove forward looking for a winner. Moses Simon came on for Musa and his runs down the lefty created three corners in quick succession, one of which led to the goal by Ekong.
In the 89th minute, Simon himself swung the corner in and Williams missed his punch, while South African defender Buhle Mkhawanazi watched on helplessly, allowing Ekong to sneak in and slot the ball home. After that, it was game over as Eagles manager Gernot Rohr brought ion Leon Balogun for Iwobi to tighten up the midfield sand ensure his team was not threatened.
Musa (c) (Simon)