- Nigeria will lock horns with South Africa in the semifinal of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake this Wednesday.
- The Super Eagles have enjoyed an excellent campaign at the 34th edition of the AFCON, and they will be favourites to edge past the Bafana Bafana into the final for the first time since 2013.
The Jose Peseiro-tutored Eagles boast an impressive defensive record in Cote d'Ivoire, conceding once in five games and securing a fourth consecutive clean sheet against Angola in the quarter-finals.
Despite having Africa Player of the Year, Victor Osimhen, in their ranks, the Super Eagles have relied heavily on the goals of Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman in the knockout rounds.
After grabbing the brace that sent Cameroon packing in the Round of 16, Lookman notched his third goal of the tournament against Cameroon to join the elite ranks of Odion Ighalo, Austin Okocha, and Rashidi Yekini as Nigerians who scored three or more goals in the knockout rounds of a single AFCON edition.
Lookman's first-half strike sealed a marginal win over the Angolans and propelled Nigeria into their record-extending 15th semifinal, with Egypt trailing closely at 13.
Nigeria, with the most medal wins at the AFCON, must overcome South Africa to reach their first final since claiming the title in 2013.
However, South Africa will not be pushovers.
The Bafana Bafana have boosted their confidence, eliminating tournament favourites Morocco and Cape Verde, and will present Nigeria with a formidable challenge.
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams emerged as the hero in their penalty shootout win over Cape Verde in the quarterfinals, saving four penalties and securing South Africa's first semifinal appearance since 2000.
Head to head
In head-to-head encounters, Nigeria hold the upper hand, with seven wins, five draws, and only two losses in 14 meetings against South Africa.
The Bafana Bafana have never beaten Nigeria at the Cup of Nations, facing defeats in the semis in 2000 and 2004, as well as a quarter-final exit in 2019.
Possible starting lineups
Nigeria (3-4-3): Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Aina, Onyeka, Iwobi, Sanusi; Simon, Lookman; Osimhen
South Africa (4-2-3-1): Williams; Mudau, Kekana, Mvala, Modiba; Mokoena, Sithole; Morena, Zwane, Tau; Makgopa
Competition: AFCON 2023, semifinal
Match: Nigeria vs South Africa
Venue: Stade de la Paix, Bouake
Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Kickoff time: 6 pm (Nigerian time)