Nigeria became the second team (after Senegal) to reach 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal after defeating South Africa 2-1 at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.
Samuel Chukwueze opened the deadlock after 27 minutes. VAR was used to confirm South Africa’s equalizer scored by Bongani Zungu after 74 minutes, but William Troost Ekong scored one minute from time to send the Super Eagles for the semifinal for the first time since they were crowned champions in 2013.
South Africa will leave Egypt with heads high after reaching the last eight despite playing in the group of death, and then eliminating hosts and favorites Egypt from the Round of 16.
Wilfried N’didi gave Bafana Bafana an idea of what to expect when he had the first shot after 6 minutes. And despite seeing South Africa with more possession, Nigeria had the lion share of chances.
Chukwueze broke the deadlock after 27 minutes after receiving the ball from Alex Iwobi inside the vital area. His initial shot was deflected from defense but he managed to collect the ball again and score past Ronwen Williams between South Africa’s posts.
South Africa tried to equalize but couldn’t pose real threats to Nigeria’s defense and goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.
After the break Nigeria were about to double their lead. Peter Etebo sent a scorcher from a free kick but Williams hand and the crossbar stopped him after 51 minutes.
And after 73 minutes VAR interfered to give South Africa the equalizer. From a free kick Bongani Zungu sent a header that wronged Akpeyi. The goal was initially ruled offside but VAR proved the ball came from a Nigerian defender back to let the goal stand.
Iwobi tried to restore Nigeria’s lead but his shot missed the target after 80 minutes.
And when it seemed the game is going to extra time, Williams made a fatal mistake when he missed a corner kick to leave William Troost Ekong to score in the empty net wending the Super Eagles to the semifinal.
The Super Eagles will now wait to see their opponents from Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire who lock horns in Suez today while Senegal, who beat Benin 1-0 earlier on Wednesday, play either Madagascar or Tunisia in the other semi-final.