Every time it feels like the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations has finally emptied the drama tank, there’s something left to thrill the fans.
On the brink of elimination, Nigeria put themselves instead on the cusp of glory as the Super Eagles nudged past South Africa into the AFCON final, advancing through the semifinals on a penalty shootout after a 1-1 regulation draw.
After 85 minutes of a hard-fought, back-and-forth affair where Nigeria led 1-0 despite chances on both ends, it appeared the Super Eagles had put the match away as Victor Osimhen’s goal put them 2-0 up with just a few minutes remaining. Yet VAR turned the match on its head, not only disallowing Osimhen’s goal, but pulling play back for a foul in the Nigeria penalty area that awarded South Africa a chance to equalize from the spot.
Teboho Mokoena would do just that, bringing Bafana Bafana level with just minutes remaining. Then, in the final minute of added time, Khuliso Mudau had a wide-open opportunity to snatch a dramatic, last-gasp winner and put South Africa through. Instead, he skied the chance, and Nigeria survived by a whisker, the match heading to extra-time.
After a goal-less 30 minutes, it advanced to a penalty shootout, where Ronwen Williams couldn’t quite duplicate his quarterfinal heroics. Nigeria would advance 4-2 as Kelechi Iheanacho deposited a wonderful effort to seal the Super Eagles’ place in the final. Super Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong was the hero for Nigeria, hitting from the penalty spot early in the second half and again in the shootout, but it was a total team effort overall, with the likes of Ola Aina impressing on both ends of the pitch and Victor Osimhen coming so close on multiple occasions.
The final is on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET and is televised in the United States by beIN Sports, with both English-language and Spanish-language broadcasts available. The final will be broadcast on television, with both channels available to stream on Fubo USA, which offers a free trial.