July 18, 2024

AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs South Africa, Ivory Coast vs DR Congo

AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs South Africa, Ivory Coast vs DR Congo
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Of the four nations remaining, DR Congo is the nation that has taken the longest time since winning the AFCON (1974), while the side that has won it most recently is Ivory Coast (2015).

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations penultimate fixtures are scheduled for this Wednesday with four nations aiming to battle it out for a semifinal stage and the coveted continental trophy.

In the previous knockout round, there were four nations – Mali, Guinea, Cape Verde and Angola- that had never won the AFCON trophy but the quartet was eliminated ensuring that the semis only had nations that had tasted overall victory.

Of the four nations remaining, DR Congo is the nation that has taken the longest time since winning the AFCON (1974), while the side that has won it most recently is Ivory Coast (2015).

With the stage set, here’s a look into the semifinal fixtures:

Nigeria vs South Africa

Nigeria made it to the semifinals after a hard-fought 1-0 win against an impressive Angola side. Ademola Lookman scored the only goal of the game in the first half and Nigeria’s defense which has only conceded once in the tournament guarded the lead to the final whistle. South Africa on the other hand depended on skipper Ronwen Williams heroics in the penalty shootout to advance to this stage. Williams saved four out of five penalties to give his side a 2-1 win when the game ended in a barren stalemate in regular time and after extra-time.

The Super Eagles head into this fixture as favorites owing to their superior head-to-head record and continental dominance.

Nigeria has played Bafana Bafana 12 times, winning 7 times and losing only once. The last time the two sides met at this stage in an AFCON tournament was 24 years ago where the Super Eagles emerged with a 2-0 victory courtesy of a Tijan Babangida brace. 

However, their most recent meeting in this tournament was in 2019 at the quarter-final stage with Nigeria winning the tie 2-1. Samuel Chukwueze opened the scoring while Bongani Zungu restored parity before William Troost-Ekong sank Bafana Bafana’s ship with an 89th-minute winner. This was also the last meeting between the two nations in all competitions.

Jose Peseiro will be hoping that his hitman, Victor Osimhen is fit to grace this fixture. Osimhen was substituted in the game against Angola in what appeared to be an injury. The latest news on the forward is far from what Nigeria fans want to hear with reports indicating that he has abdominal issues that prompted him to miss the trip to Bouake on Monday.

Hugo Broos on the other hand has Thapelo Maseko missing due to a hamstring injury. However, Broos will be banking on his topscorer in this tournament, Themba Zwane to fire his side to victory and condemn Nigeria to a sixth AFCON semifinal loss in the last seven appearances.

The game will be played at Stade de la Paix from 2000hrs local time.


Ivory Coast vs DR Congo

The hosts, Ivory Coast needed lady luck to smile upon them to make the knock out stages and there has been no stopping them since then. They went against the odds to beat defending champions and tournament favorites Senegal on post-match penalties after a 1-1 draw with Frank Kessie restoring parity late in the game from the spot.

It was a similar case in the quarter finals against Mali when they scored late in regular and extra time to earn a 2-1 victory against Mali despite playing a man less in the second half and extra time.

DR Congo won the first match of the tournament after easily beating Guinea 3-1 with goals coming from Chancel Mbemba, Arthur Masuaku, and Yoane Wissa. It was their first direct win of the tournament after registering draws in their first four games of the tournament.

The two sides last met at this stage in 2015 with Ivory Coast emerging 3-1 winners courtesy of goals from Gervinho, Yaya Toure, and Wilfried Kanon.

Overall, the two nations have met 13 times, with Ivory Coast winning 5 times, DR Congo 4 times and the two sides sharing spoils 4 times.

Emerse Fae will be missing the services of Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakite who were sent off for two bookable offenses in their 2-1 win against Mali. Fae will be hoping that Ibrahim Sangare is fit two start after missing the previous game due to a knock.

The Leopards on the other hand have all players available and coach Sebastien Desabre will have a full-strength squad to choose from.

The semifinal will be played at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara from 2300 hours local time.

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