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Wednesday, 07 February 2024 21:41

Nigeria beat South Africa on penalties to reach Africa Cup of Nations final.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Kelechi Iheanacho converted the winning penalty as Nigeria held their nerve for a 4-2 shootout win over South Africa to reach the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final.

The game in Bouake finished 1-1 following a remarkable end to normal time which involved the referee going to his video monitor to disallow a Victor Osimhen strike which would have put Nigeria 2-0 up - and instead awarding a penalty to South Africa.

VAR check deemed that Percy Tau had been fouled in the box at the other end in the build-up, as the referee returned from the monitor to disallowed Osimhen’s goal and award South Africa a penalty in a remarkable turn of events.

Teboho Mokoena converted from the spot in the 90th minute to send the game into a goalless period of extra-time.

But the midfielder was one of two South African players to see their spot-kicks saved by goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali as the Super Eagles triumphed to reach Sunday's final.

South Africa piled on the pressure deep into stoppage-time and should really have won it, as Mokoena's free-kick was parried out and Khuliso Mudau blasted over the rebound with the goal at his mercy.

Terem Moffi was introduced with ten minutes of extra time remaining, replacing Osimhen, and almost immediately he was clean through on goal. Grant Kekana brought him down just outside the box, and although the referee initially waved play on, the South Africa defender was shown a straight red card after a VAR review.

Bafana Bafana held on to make it to penalties, but they fell agonisingly short in their bid for another upset win, as Nigeria moved a step closer to ending their 11-year wait for AFCON glory.

The Super Eagles will take on either Ivory Coast or DR Congo in the final on Sunday.

South Africa will face the loser of the second semi-final in the third-fourth place play-off on Saturday.