By Wale Mustapha
The Nigeria’s senior men national team have secured their place in the final of 2023 African Cup of Nations, following a 4-2 victory on penalties over South Africa after a 1-1 draw in Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
After drab first half draw, Super Eagles’ captain, William Troost-Ekong handed the three-time AFCON winners the lead few minutes after the hour mark.
Meholo Mokoena, however restored parity for Bafana Bafana at the stoppage time also from spot to drag the game to extra and eventually decided by penalties which Nigeria prevailed 4-2.
Nigeriafootball.ng chronicles how Jose Peseiro’s men performed in the dramatic clash in Bouake.
Stanley Nwabali – 9.5/10
Nwabali had a near perfect game with his impressive saves right from get go. He was involved the team’s buildups and coordinated his defense well. He went on to be hero in the shootouts where made two big saves. No one will argue his eventual choice of winning Man of the Match.
William Troost-Ekong – 9/10
He was able to proved again why he’s the leader of the team on the pitch. He carried the team well and didn’t disappoint with his duels, tackles and interceptions. He expertly dispatch his spot kick during normal time and replicated same feat in the shootouts. Ekong was indeed a leader by example.
Semi Ajayi – 8.5/10
The West Brom centre back had a decent game with his timely challenges and interceptions and blockings.
He hardly put a wrong foot forward and also did well anytime he joined attack. This is his best game for Nigeria in this normal.
Calvin Bassey – 7/10
Bassey had a good evening against the Bafana Bafana with his defending. He could have done better in some situations but made good use of body frame to ward off major threats from the opponent.
Bright Osayi-Samuel – 8/10
He was handed his first start at the tournament and didn’t disappoint with his defending and bursting forward to join attack. He was close to have an assist in the night but ead chalked off for offside.
Ola Aina – 7/10
He was a makeshift left back due to Zeidu Sanusi’s injury and delivered with a wonderful performance. His defending was perfect but fell short of initiatives going forward in some occasions. Aina could have also done well with his missed spot kick during the shootouts.
Frank Onyeka – 8.5/10
The Brentford midfielder was fantastic with his breakup play, providing needed shield for the defense, making good tackles and passes as well joining attack when needed.
He has a decent game.
Alex Iwobi – 5/10
Iwobi struggled to cope with the combative postures of South African midfielders and gave away too many possessions. His passes were faulty and couldn’t do much with the markings. It was evident in his substitution after the hour mark.
Moses Simon – 6/10
Simon had a bit part impact on the match. He was unable to do as expected in attack, with his deliveries but replaced that with some neat tackles and winning back possession for the team.
Ademola Lookman – 6/10
The Atalanta wide man was shut out for majority of game and struggled to use his pace on the flank.
He also let himself down with the glorious miss early in the second half.
Victor Osimhen – 8/10
Osimhen as usual gave South Africa defenders more worries and put them in check. One then led to winning the spot kick. He could have got his second goal of the tournament but VAR chalked it off.
Alhassan Yusuf – 6/10
He did well with his right passes and pressing the opponent back. However, he was responsible for the South Africa’s equalizer. Apart from that, he did very well.
Samuel Chukwueze – 7.5/10
He made huge impact with his near perfect passes and creating more worries for South Africa defenders.
His pace and presence pegged back the opponent from pressing Nigeria in numbers.
Terem Moffi – 7.5
Moffi helped the team to gain numerical advantage as he was responsible for the red card given to Kekana.
He was also superb with his spot kick during the shootouts.
Kelechi Iheanacho – 6.5/10
He came late into the game and could have done better with free kick in extra time but couldn’t get much power on it.
He however write his name in glory by taking responsibility for the final spot kick that send Nigeria to the final.
Kenneth Omeruo – No rating.
The 2013 AFCON winner was only brought in for the shootout and did very well with his penalty kick.