AFCON 2023: Super Eagles of Nigeria face Bafana Bafana of South Africa in first semi-final clash


Nigeria’s journey through the Africa Cup of Nations has been remarkable, positioning them just one step away from the final showdown. However, to secure their spot, they must overcome South Africa in Wednesday’s semi-final clash at Stade de la Paix.

The Super Eagles displayed defensive prowess in their last outing against Angola, securing their fourth consecutive clean sheet. Conversely, Bafana Bafana relied heavily on the heroics of Ronwen Williams to edge past Cape Verde in the quarter-finals.

Despite Nigeria’s victory over Angola, signs of fatigue were evident, particularly among players like Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen. Additionally, Frank Onyeka’s injury forced him off the field during the match against Palancas Negras.

Ademola Lookman has been a standout performer for the Super Eagles, adding to his impressive tally with a goal against Cameroon. His contribution has been instrumental, making him the fourth Nigerian player to score three or more goals in a single edition of the tournament’s knockout rounds.

With aspirations of reaching their first final since 2013, Nigeria aims to extend their record-extending 15th semi-final appearance. However, their ability to maintain defensive solidity remains uncertain, especially against a formidable opponent like South Africa.

South Africa has proven to be a formidable adversary, eliminating tournament favorites Morocco in the last 16 and clinching victory against Cape Verde in the quarter-finals. The heroics of goalkeeper Ronwen Williams played a pivotal role, particularly during the penalty shootout against Cape Verde.

Under the guidance of coach Hugo Broos, South Africa has reached their first semi-final since 2000. Despite facing Nigeria, a team they have historically struggled against in the Cup of Nations, Bafana Bafana remains determined to secure a spot in the final.

The historical record between Nigeria and South Africa underscores the competitive nature of their encounters at the Cup of Nations. With Nigeria boasting an undefeated streak against South Africa in previous tournaments, the stage is set for an intense battle on the field.

Nigeria’s recent form in the Africa Cup of Nations has been impressive, with a string of victories leading up to the semi-final encounter. However, their overall form in all competitions highlights occasional setbacks, necessitating a focused approach in the upcoming match.

Similarly, South Africa’s performance in the Africa Cup of Nations has been commendable, with notable wins propelling them to the semi-finals. Despite occasional setbacks in other competitions, Bafana Bafana remains a formidable opponent on the continental stage.

While Victor Osimhen is regarded as Nigeria’s star player, concerns persist over his finishing ability. Nevertheless, he is expected to lead the attack alongside the dynamic duo of Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon in Peseiro’s tactical setup.

Suspension concerns loom over Nigeria’s Moses Simon, Ola Aina, and Calvin Bassey, with the risk of missing a potential final if any of them receive bookings in the semi-final clash. Similarly, South Africa faces similar challenges with Aubrey Modiba, Grant Kekana, and Mothobi Mvala at risk of suspension.

Both teams have showcased defensive resilience throughout the tournament, conceding minimal goals. As they prepare for the semi-final showdown, neither side is expected to make significant changes to their defensive lineup, relying on their established backlines to maintain stability.

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