- Nigeria's Golden Eaglets win 3-2 against South Africa's Amajimbos
- They booked their spot in the quarterfinals of the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
In a captivating encounter at the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui in Constantine, Nigeria's Golden Eaglets triumphed with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over South Africa's Amajimbos in their final Group B match of the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
This crucial win propelled Nigeria into the quarterfinals of the tournament, while South Africa also progressed as one of the best third-placed teams.
Right from the kickoff, the match promised excitement as South Africa took an early lead within the opening five minutes. Vicky Mkhawana displayed finesse and composure to find the back of the net, granting the Amajimbos an early advantage.
The Nigerian lads responded with vigour and came close to equalizing in the seventh minute when Abubakar Abdullahi missed a golden opportunity from close range.
The Amajimbos' defence was put to the test once again just three minutes later, as Charles Agada's well-taken shot found the back of the net. Unfortunately, the goal was disallowed due to an offside decision, denying Nigeria the chance to draw level.
Undeterred, the Golden Eaglets continued their relentless pursuit of an equalizer. Their perseverance paid off in the 35th minute when Agada rose above the defense and scored an impressive header from a perfectly executed corner kick, leveling the scoreline at 1-1.
The Eaglets grew in confidence and nearly snatched the lead just before halftime when Abdullahi came agonizingly close to netting his second goal of the match during added time.
However, South Africa had a response of their own, and in the closing moments of the first half, Mkhawana turned provider, setting up Siyabonga Nicolas Mabena to restore the Amajimbos' lead.
The half-time whistle blew with South Africa holding a narrow 2-1 advantage, setting the stage for an enthralling second half.
The Golden Eaglets emerged from the break with renewed determination and wasted no time in restoring parity. Just a minute into the second half, Light Eke capitalized on Charles Agada's brilliant run, expertly finishing to bring Nigeria level once again at 2-2.
As the match progressed, both teams intensified their efforts to secure a crucial victory.
In the 64th minute, the Eaglets seized control of the game, with Abdullahi connecting superbly with a precise delivery from Emmanuel Michael. His clinical finish placed Nigeria ahead for the first time in the encounter, igniting scenes of joy among the Nigerian faithful.
With the clock ticking down, the Eaglets continued to press forward, looking to extend their lead and secure a more comfortable victory. South Africa's defense valiantly resisted the Nigerian onslaught, and despite several near misses, the scoreline remained unchanged.
The final whistle eventually blew, confirming Nigeria's hard-earned 3-2 triumph. The result ensured their progression to the quarterfinals as Group B runners-up, behind table-toppers Morocco, who had lost [1-2] to Zambia.
South Africa also sealed their place in the knockout stage as one of the best third-placed teams, reflecting the resilience and competitiveness of the Amajimbos.
The Golden Eaglets now shift their focus to the upcoming quarterfinals, where they will face the winner of the Group C clash between defending champions Cameroon and Burkina Faso.