AMBITIOUS BAFANA BAFANA OF SOUTH AFRICA had their dreams of further progressing in Afcon 2019, dashed, when it succumbed to Nigeria’s Super Eagles quality football, at the quarter final fixture, Wednesday night, in Cairo, Egypt. After taking out, host Egypt, in the round of 16, South Africa had thought, Nigeria may not present formidable obstacle in the quarter final.
But the more skillful and tactical Super Eagles of Nigeria, caged the fast playing Bafana Bafana of South Africa, who resulted to playing less faster game, which they were known for, and used against, host Egypt. At the end of 94 minutes – full and extra-time – it ended Nigeria 2, South Africa 1. And Nigeria qualified for semi-final.
If not for the uncoordinated and lackluster finishing, at the front line between Ahmed Musa, Odion Igbalo, and perhaps Alex Iwobi, South Africa would have conceded close to four goals from the Nigerian side. Crosses from Musa and young star Samuel Chukwueze were not utilised. It was not an easy game for both sides, though.
Samuel Chukwueze opened scoring for Nigeria when he hit a rebound ball into South Africa’s net from Alex Iwobi’s cross. His first goal for his country. A header initially ruled as offside, from Bongani Zungu, equalised for South Africa, after VAR replay showed the free-kick hit Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo before it was headed in.
Close to 90 minutes full-time, Troost-Ekong scored a back-breaker and the winning goal for Nigeria from a cross that beat South Africa’s goalkeeper. At the end of added four-minutes extra-time, Nigeria was through to the semi-final – scores at Nigeria 2 – South Africa 1.
South Africa were fully in the match against Nigeria. Full-time match statistics showed they had 61 percent ball possession, and Nigeria 39 percent. Clear indication that South African were matching their Nigerian opponent, but were, also, not enterprising in front of the goal
What would have been the most decorative goal of the match was Peter Etebo’s free-kick which South Africa’s goalkeeper Ronwen Williams parried and hit the bar.
Outstanding players on Nigerian side were Troost-Ekong, who seemed to be at the heart of the defense and scored the winning goal. Alex Iwobi, Peter Etebo and young star Samuel Chukwueze were at their best.
It will either be Nigeria versus Ivory Coast, or Algeria in the semi-final on Sunday, July 14.