Nigeria vs South Africa: Five things we learned

Nigeria’s William Troost-Ekong (middle) celebrates after scoring the winning goal against South Africa during their Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal match at the Cairo International Stadium…yesterday. PHOTO: AFP

The Super Eagles again failed to disappoint millions of fans as the Gernot Rohr men staged another spirited performance to knock-out South Africa in a thrilling 2 – 1 victory.

The game already looking to be heading for extra time before William Troost-Ekong scored a dramatic late winner to send the Bafana Bafana back home.

Samuel Chukwueze scored the opener in the first half of the encounter as he controlled Alex Iwobi’s cross. The Bafana Bafana equalized after Bongani Zungu with a header initially ruled out for offside before VAR replays showed a free-kick hit a Odion Ighalo on the way to Zungu who comfortably smashed the ball into the net.

Nigeria will face Ivory Coast or Algeria in Sunday’s second semi-final.

Here are five things we learned from the 2-1 win from Wednesday’s thrilling AFCON quarterfinals clash between the rivals.

Magical Chukwueze continues to sizzle
The Super Eagles were deserved winners and led through Villarreal youngster Chukwueze’s first goal for his country.
The youngster keeps turning heads with his performance. He opened the scoring, showing remarkable drive to follow through after his first shot was blocked. His purposeful drives and trickery remain a key asset for the Super Eagles.

Ekong delivers a semi-final slot

It wasn’t a towering header but he was at the right place at the right time, bundling home a corner kick after Williams unfortunate flap at the ball. The defence looked better but still conceded a goal and it was Troost-Ekong who was at the heart of that defence and scored the winner. His effort in the 89th minute will be in the annals.

Dominant Eagles limits South Africa

Bafana Bafana looked the shadow of the side that ousted favourites and host side, Egypt. There was a lack of zip to the side that was second to most balls and the South Africa’s equaliser thanks to the VAR decision, which was a bit of history here. Everyone in the stadium thought it was offside – that was what the linesman flagged for – but the replay proved VAR was useful, correct and worth doing because it proved the ball had come off Ighalo and not Thulani Hlatshwayo, and so it stood.

Musa’s final ball worry

Musa is key to NIgeria’s attack perhaps for his pace and experience but Mkhize will certainly be sore; he had a torrid time against Musa on the left. However, Musa’s success against Mkhize didn’t transcend to clear cut opportunities. He could have handed Nigeria a healthy lead were his final balls not disappointing.

VAR proves its case

Without VAR, South Africa’s goal would have been ruled out for offside but replays showed that Percy Tau’s free-kick hit Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo on the way on to Amiens midfielder Zungu’s head which meant the midfielder was not offside. Zungu’s goal was the first in the Africa Cup of Nations given by the VAR, which has just been introduced for the quarter-finals. VAR debuted in the quarterfinals of the AFCON and it is already delivering the goods.

Inputs from Solomon Fowowe

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