Nigerians and the Federal Government have expressed confidence in the ability of the Super Eagles to emerge victorious and bring home the 2023 African Nations Cup trophy.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday in Bouake qualified for the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), after defeating South Africa in a pulsating semi-final clash.
BRANDPOWER reports that the match played at the Stade de la Paix, Bouake, was decided on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes of tension soaked encounter.
The match started on a fast pace, with the South Africans dominating play but were pegged back by the resilient Nigerian defence, Marshalled by Captain William Troost-Ekong.
The cagey first half ended goalless, in spite the forays by both teams.
But in the second half, Nigeria took the lead after Victor Osimhen was fouled inside the 18 yard box.
Ekong stepped up to put the Eagles one goal up.
However, late in the game, substitute Alhassan Yusuf gave away a penalty, which Teboho Mokoena tucked away.
The match was eventually decided on penalties, with Nigeria winning 4-2 after a nervy shoot-out.
Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty as Nigeria booked their place in the final, sparking wild celebration in the stadium.
Nigeria will now face winners of the Cote d’Ivoire vs DR Congo match in Sunday’s final.
Ex-Nigerian International, Celestine Babayaro has urged the Super Eagles to imbibe team spirit and dedication to win the 2023 AFCON trophy .
According to him, only dedication and playing well can help the eagle win the tournament.
“I really like their mode of play as they show skills and energy during the last two matches, but the team need more dedication and one spirit to win the final match.
“They need to follow the coach’s instructions, add psychology and exhibit more skillful tactics as a team to win the AFCON glory.
“The game was impressive I must confess and I hope the glory is coming to Nigeria,” he said.
My tactics suffered against S/Africa – Peseiro
Jose Peseiro, Super Eagles coach, said his new found winning formation suffered in the last 20 minutes of the semi-final clash with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
BRANDPOWER reports that Peseiro said this during a news conference after Nigeria’s 4-2 penalty shootout win at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire.
The Portuguese tactician also said the semi-final match was his toughest game so far in the ongoing AFCON.
“Around 90 minutes, I see that our team suffered, we were shaken, we lost the balance.
“But during the break before the extra time, we put ourselves together and went into extra time with that confidence.
“They are a very good team, they created a lot of problems for us, they did a fantastic job but I think our boys deserved to win,” Peseiro said.
His South Africa counterpart, Hugo Broos, expressed the belief that his team played very well but lost the game and praised his boys for a good job.
“Two minutes before the end of 90 minutes, we had three clear cut chances. If we could score then, it means we are going to the final.
“It is a disappointment for everyone because we feel that we played a very good game today and I’m very proud of it.
“I’m proud of my players, the disappointment is small, the proudness is very big. What they did, what they performed, not only today, I think i have to be proud as a coach,” Broos.
Nigeria’s captain, William Ekong, scored from the spot to give the Super Eagles the lead in the 67th minute.
A dramatic twist of event saw Victor Osimhen’s celebrations cut short in the 86th minute after scoring what would have been Nigeria’s 2nd goal.
But a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review resulted in a penalty against Super Eagles after Alhassan Yusuf had fouled a player in his goal area.
Bafana Bafana’s Teboho Mokoena, sent goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali to the wrong side to even the score in the 88th minute.
NAN reports that the two sides had their few chances in the extra time but Nwabali stole the show when he stopped two of the South Africa’s penalties to give Nigeria a 4-2 win at the end of the encounter.
Criticism motivates, makes me stronge – Nwabali
Super Eagles and Chippa United FC goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, has said that criticism motivates and makes him stronger to give his best.
Nwabali who was voted man of the match against South Africa, said this during a post match news conference on Wednesday in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire.
Nigeria defeated South Africa 4-2 after a pulsating 120 minutes play to qualify for the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)
“It happens in football, if football goes like this, your fans want more from you and they say things like this.
“I just feel like it is a motivation for me to keep working hard” Nwabali said.
He said that it was like a dream when Peseiro said he was coming to him in South Africa, where he is plying his trade with Chippa United FC.
The South Africa-based goalkeeper thanked his teammates for the support they have given him so far.
He reiterated his commitment to continue to give his best to the Super Eagles and Nigeria.