A dying minute goal from William Troost-Ekong sent Nigeria through to the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations competition on Wednesday night to ensure that the Super Eagles ran out 2-1 winners over their Bafana Bafana counterparts.
Samuel Chukwueze gave Nigeria the lead before the break after a beautifully worked ball from Arsenal midfielder, Alex Iwobi but Bongani Zungu’s header in the 70th minute aided by a VAR decision – the first of its kind in the tournament – took the tie level after initially being ruled out for offside.
William Troost-Ekong then turned home from a corner kick after the ball had slipped from South Africa’s goalie a minute from time to set the Super Eagles, three-time African Champions for a semi-final clash with either of Algeria or Ivory Coast.
Villarreal forward, Samuel Chukwueze came into the Nigerian attack for Moses Simon and was hugely impressive in the final third showing busts of pace, power, precision and technicality while Jamilu Collins made his first appearance in this year’s competition in left-back position after shaking off a pre-tournament injury he had sustained.
South Africa gaffer, Stuart Baxter stuck with the side who had handed hosts, Egypt a shock exit out of the tournament, choosing to keep match-winner Thembinoski Lorch in the starting team even with the return of Themba Zwane from suspension.
Odion Ighalo’s three goals in the tournament had turned out decisive for Nigeria a number of times on the way to the last-eight but it was emerging forward Samuel Chukwueze who stole the hearts of Nigerians away ending the impasse just before the break.
Iwobi skimmed past a couple of defenders on the left flank before pulling back for Chukwueze who latched onto the ball and swept into the corner after the ball trickled back his way after a blocked first shot.