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AFCON 2023: 3 Key Chances That Could Have Changed the Tie for South Africa As Nigeria Reach Final
- Nigeria reached the final of the ongoing 2023 AFCON final after beating South Africa
- While the Super Eagles rejoice, it is Bafana Bafana that will be rueing their missed chances
- Here's a look at the 3 moments which could have swung the tie in favour of Hugo Broos' men
The Super Eagles of Nigeria secured a spot in the final of the soon-to-end 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations by triumphing over South Africa on penalties in Bouake.
In a hard-fought battle, the West African giants, vying for their fourth AFCON title, displayed resilience to overcome Bafana Bafana in a post-match penalty shootout.
How Nigeria beat South Africa to reach final
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However, Hugo Broos' side also found the equaliser from the penalty spot after a lengthy VAR review nullified Victor Osimhen's goal.
With the teams deadlocked after 120 minutes of unbridled action, the outcome was decided by penalties, where Stanley Nwabali emerged as the hero for Nigeria, per The Standard, while Ronwen Williams struggled to save against the Super Eagles.
Despite Nigeria's victory, several pivotal moments could have swung the match in favour of the Rainbow Nation.
Sports Brief examines three critical instances that might have propelled South Africa into the Grand Finale instead of Nigeria.
Mokoena's last-gasp freekick, Mudau's miss
In the dying moments of regular play, as momentum favoured Hugo Broos' charges, Teboho Mokoena stood poised for a free-kick opportunity just outside the box, reminiscent of his strike against Morocco.
Unlike his previous success against Yassine Bounou, Mokoena's powerful kick was met with a brilliant save by Nwabali, only for the rebound to graciously fall to Khuliso Mudau with an open net beckoning.
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Unfortunately, Mudau's subsequent shot sailed over the crossbar, sparing Nigeria's defence from a heartbreaking defeat at the death and keeping the match level.
Surely, if Mudau had converted, it would have likely sealed victory for the 1996 champions, but fate had other plans.
Percy Tau's 'baby' shots
Despite being arguably South Africa's standout player, Percy Tau struggled to deliver when it counted most during critical moments of the game.
Undoubtedly a threat to Nigeria's defence, Tau's speed and agility posed a challenge for the usually solid Super Eagles backline led by captain Troost-Ekong.
However, crucially, Tau faltered in key moments, often mishandling the ball or failing to muster a strong shot on goal.
One notable instance occurred in the 27th minute when he found himself in a promising position but disappointingly directed his shot, almost as if passing it, directly to Nwabali, who easily gathered the ball.
Evidence Makgopa tests Nwabali but not enough
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In tandem with Tau, Evidence Makgopa posed significant challenges for Nigeria's defence and came close to breaking the deadlock just before halftime, in the 36th minute.
After sustained pressure in the Nigerian penalty area throughout the first half, the 23-year-old striker seized an opportunity created by Troost-Ekong's defensive lapse.
Makgopa attempted a bending shot, but Nwabali intervened with a crucial save, deflecting the ball to safety with his outstretched hand.
However, upon closer examination, had Makgopa applied more power to his strike, the outcome might have been different.
Mosimane reacts to Bafana Bafana heartbreak
Sports Brief also reported that following Nigeria's victory over South Africa to secure a spot in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, esteemed South African coach Pitso Mosimane has shared his reaction.
Currently managing Saudi Arabian club Abha Club, Mosimane chose to commend Bafana Bafana's efforts and focus on the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives.
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After the match, the former Mamelodi Sundowns trainer penned his thoughts.
"Absolutely. We gave a very big fight, and no team was comfortable playing against SA. Now for the final in Morocco.