BY COBHAM NSA – A late goal by towering defender, William Troost-Ekong proved decisive as the Super Eagles of Nigeria dusted South Africa 2-1 on the night to reach the semi final round of the ongoing African Nations Cup (AFCON) tournament in Egypt.
Scoring a goal in each half, the Nigerians were always on the ascendancy and got the better part of their Bafana Bafana counterparts by securing a hard-fought victory in the quarter-final tie inside the magnificent 70,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium in Egypt on Wednesday night.
After sending the hosts and Cup favourites, Pharaohs of Egypt packing from the biennial continental soccer in the last 16 round, the South Africans’ dream of causing another upset in the competition was thwarted by Troost-Ekong’s strike off a set piece delivered by second half substitute, Moses Simon.
Despite battling hard to draw level in the second half, Simon’s right-footed lift flew past the bewildered Bafana Bafana’s defenders into the waiting legs of Ekong whose first touch bundled the ball past impressive Keeper Williams in goal for the South Africans.
Nigeria took a deserved lead through Samuel Chukwueze in the 27th minute and thereafter looked the better side going forward.
However, a second half error by Super Eagles’ striker, Odion Ighalo saw Zungu heading the ball past Keeper Daniel Akpeyi to level matters at one-all.
Interestingly, the VAR had to be consulted for the first since the tournament began before the referee awarded the goal in favour of the South Africans.
With the match tempo ebbing towards a possible extra-time confrontation, Troost-Ekong was on hand to sweep home the free ball after goalkeeper Williams failed to punch clear from danger.
With this victory, Nigeria became the second nation to reach the semi-final stage following the Teranga Lions of Senegal’s slim 1-0 triumph over the Squirrels of Benin Republic earlier in the day.