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AFCON 2023 Nigeria vs. South Africa: Preview, Head to Head, and Match Prediction

We look ahead to today’s AFCON 2023 semi-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké between Nigeria vs. South Africa.

Nigeria are now the favourites to get to the final and to win AFCON 2024, since defending champions Senegal were eliminated in the last 16, while South Africa are now third favourite to lift the trophy.

This will be the fourth encounter between Nigeria and South Africa at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with the Super Eagles winning the previous three by an aggregate score of 8-1.

Nigeria and South Africa last met in the semi-finals at the AFCON in 2000, with the Super Eagles running out 2-0 winners thanks to a brace from Tijani Babangida.

Nigeria are playing in a record 15th semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations, while they’ve only progressed from one of their last six at this stage of the competition, going on to win the competition in South Africa in 2013.

Nigeria has won her last four AFCON games without shipping in goals; they could keep five consecutive clean sheets in the competition for the first time since March 1982 (W4 D1), while they’ve never done so when winning all five games. South Africa, on the other hand are playing in their fourth semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations and their first since 2000, when they were knocked out by Nigeria (2-0).


South Africa has also been tight In defence as they have kept four consecutive clean sheets at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time (W2 D2), while it’s as many as they had recorded in their previous 21 matches in the competition combined.

The Super Eagles have had just three different goal scorers (excluding own goals) at this year AFCON (Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen and William Troost-Ekong), their fewest in a single edition since 2008 (two, Yakubu and John Obi Mikel).


South Africa have had six shots following a high turnover at AFCON 2023; only Egypt have had more (seven), while only Morocco (nine) have had more direct attacks than the South Africa (eight) in the competition this year.
Osimhen has only scored one goal despite attempting the most shots (19) at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations – a shot conversion rate of 5.3%.

Themba Zwane has been directly involved in 50% (3/6) of South Africa’s goals at AFCON 2023 (two goals, one assist), while he could become the first Bafana Bafana player to score three goals in a single edition of AFCON since Shaun Bartlett in 2000 (5).

The last time South Africa featured in the AFCON semi-final, they faced Nigeria in 2000, and they will be looking to avenge their 2-0 loss from that tournament.

Nigeria advanced to the semi-final with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Angola. Ademola Lookman scored the winner for the Super Eagles, making it three goals at AFCON 2023 for the Atalanta winger.

Victor Osimhen remains on just one goal at AFCON 2023, though he was denied an offside flag after appearing to double Nigeria’s lead against Angola on Friday. It’s not for a lack of trying, though. No player has had as many as Osimhen’s 19 total shots (including blocks) at the tournament.

South Africa went through on penalties after a tough contest with Cape Verde. The game finished 0-0 in normal time, with the bafana bafana men winning 2-1 on penalties.

Captain Ronwen Williams led by example to send his team to the semi-finals. The goalkeeper wasn’t called on much during normal and extra time, with Cape Verde hitting the target just twice from their 25 attempts, but Williams saved an incredible four of their five penalties in the shootout.

Williams has had an impressive tournament overall and will surely be key again in this semi-final. He has conceded just two goals at this year AFCON.

Head-to-Head
Nigeria and South Africa have played each other 12 times previously in all competitions, with seven wins for the Super Eagles and just one for Bafana Bafana. Nigeria is favourite looking at the head to head record.

It will be the fourth match between Nigeria and South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Super Eagles winning the previous three by an aggregate score of 8-1.v

Their last meeting saw Nigeria defeat South Africa 2-1 in the quarter-finals of AFCON 2019, with William Troost-Ekong scoring an 89th-minute winner after Bongani Zungu had equalised Samuel Chukwueze’s opener.

Prediction
Nigeria is predicted to advance to the final with a win over South Africa today
A 2-0 win for Nigeria.

Time – 6pm Nigerian time.

Joseph Laleye is a graduate of Public Administration, Art Enthusiast, and BrandiQSports Editor

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