Goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, was the hero of the night, saving two penalty kicks as Nigeria qualified for the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after defeating South Africa on penalty shootout in the semi-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake on Wednesday.
Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty kick to give the Eagles a 4-2 victory after the 90 minutes and extra time ended 1-1.
Nigeria thought they had won the game deep into regulation time after Victor Osimhen found the back of the net to make it 2-0, but a VAR review showed that Alhassan Yussuf had brought down Percy Tau in the Nigerian box in the build up to the game.
The goal was however disallowed and the referee awarded a penalty to the Bafana Bafana which was converted by Teboho Mokoena in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time.
The Eagles had gone ahead also from a penalty converted by captain William Troost-Ekong in the 67th minute after Osimhen was brought in the South African box.
Bafana Bafana defender Grant Kekana was sent off late on in the second half of extra time as the last man after bringing down Eagles striker Terem Moffi who was clear on goal. Iheanacho failed to make the South Africa’s pay more, playing the resultant freekick into the hands of goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Williams who had saved four of the five penalty kicks in their win over Cape Verde in the quarter-final failed to save any of the Eagles penalty kick, with Ola Aina blazing his kick over the bar.
Nwabali however saved penalties from Mokoena – who had earlier forced the game into extra time from the spot – and Mihlali Mayambela.
Nigeria who are hoping to win their fourth AFCON title will face either Ivory Coast or DR Congo in Sunday’s final.