Nigeria is one win away from the final thanks to their outstanding Africa Cup of Nations campaign, but they still need to defeat South Africa in Wednesday’s semi-final at Stade de la Paix.
In their most recent match, the Super Eagles defeated Angola 4–0 to go to the round of sixteen, while Bafana Bafana required a master performance from Ronwen Williams to overcome Cape Verde in the quarterfinals.
Although Jose Peseiro’s team defeated Angola 1-0 without giving up, the Super Eagles displayed signs of cumulative tiredness in the final eight minutes, with some players seeming to be exhausted.
Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi appeared to be the most impacted, and Frank Onyeka had an injury that forced him to sit out the match against Palancas Negras.
Still, Ademola Lookman has been the Super Eagles’ bright spot at AFCON 2023. He added to his brace against Cameroon to score his third goal in the finals, making him the fourth Nigerian to score three goals or more in a single edition’s knockout stages, following Odion Ighalo in 2019 (four goals), Jay-Jay Okocha in 2004 (three goals), and Rashidi Yekini in 1994 (three goals).
The three-time African champions advanced to a record-tying 15th semi-final thanks to the Atalanta forward’s first-half goal. Egypt (13) came in second, and the team with the most podium finishes on the continent will look to eliminate South Africa on Wednesday in order to play either Ivory Coast or Congo DR on February 11.
With their hopes of making it to their first final since winning it in 2013, the Super Eagles may persevere in the competition’s opening semi-final despite it being unclear if they have enough energy left for another performance that mostly depends on defensive resiliency.