The Amapiano Derby: Nigeria and South Africa To Slug it out for AFCON final ticket 

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The Africa Cup of Nations Tournament commenced with 24 teams in Ivory Coast on January 13, 2024, among the 24 participating teams, only four have endured the exhaustive yet thrilling three weeks of top-notch African football. These remaining teams—South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and DR Congo—are now contending for a coveted spot in the final, where they aim to clinch victory and secure the African Cup of Nations.

The semi-final clash scheduled for February 7, 2024, at the Stade Bouaké Stadium, will see the three-time AFCON champions, Nigeria, face off against South Africa at 6 pm WAT. The Super Eagles secured their spot by triumphing over Angola with a 1-0 victory, courtesy of Ademola Lookman, who notched up his tournament goal tally to three in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, South Africa faced a goalless draw against Cape Verde, ultimately prevailing 2-1 in a penalty shootout. Notably, goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, representing South Africa and Mamelodi Sundowns, achieved a historic feat by becoming the first goalkeeper in AFCON history to save four penalties in a shootout.

This match has earned the moniker of the Amapiano Derby, highlighting South Africa’s role in originating the Amapiano music genre and Nigeria’s subsequent adoption of it. However, this fixture transcends just a  battle for the ownership of a  Music genre.


Nigeria vs South Africa Rivalry 


In their 12 previous encounters across all competitions, Nigeria and South Africa have squared off, with the Super Eagles emerging victorious seven times, while Bafana Bafana has secured only one win.

The upcoming match will mark the fourth meeting between Nigeria and South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations, where the Super Eagles have triumphed in the previous three clashes with an aggregate score of 8-1. Notably, the last time South Africa reached the AFCON semi-finals in 2000, Nigeria defeated them 2-0.

In their recent face-off during the AFCON 2019 quarter finals, Nigeria secured a 2-1 victory over South Africa. William Troost-Ekong netted an 89th-minute winner after Bongani Zungu had equalized Samuel Chukwueze’s opener.


Pre-Match Facts

Nigeria are the favorites to win AFCON 2023 with the Opta supercomputer and are given a 52.2% chance of winning this tie within  90 minutes, and a 63.9% likelihood overall of reaching the final.

Nigeria is playing in a record 15th semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations. At the same time, they’ve only progressed from one of their last six semi-final appearances in the competition, going on to win the competition in South Africa in 2013.

Nigeria has won their last four AFCON games without conceding. If they could keep a clean sheet against South Africa,  it would be the first time since March 1982 (W4 D1) that the Super Eagles would  keep five consecutive clean sheets in the competition. 


South Africa will be playing in their fourth semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations and their first since 2000, when they were eliminated by Nigeria (2-0).

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

Nigeria has  had just three different goal scorers (excluding own goals) at AFCON 2023 (Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen and William Troost-Ekong), their fewest in a single edition since 2008. 


Key Players


Ademola Lookman  

Ademola lookman
Ademola Lookman, celebrating his goal against Cameroon

The Atalanta sensation has been a standout performer for the Super Eagles in this tournament, igniting the team’s success with his goal-scoring prowess. Beyond showcasing remarkable trickery, the swift forward exhibits an impressive finishing ability. Over the last two matches, he has netted three crucial goals, securing a brace against Cameroon in the Round of 16 and another against Angola, propelling the team into the semi-finals.


Ronwen Williams

Ronen Williams, South Africa's Goalkeeper
Ronen Williams, South Africa’s Goalkeeper

As the South African team advanced to the semi-finals, the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper showcased exceptional form between the posts. A standout performer in this tournament, he boasts an impressive record of four clean sheets in five matches. His heroics during the quarterfinal against Cape Verde, where he saved South Africa from a penalty shootout, further solidified his star status. Williams has consistently delivered a remarkable performance throughout the tournament, conceding just two goals at AFCON 2023 despite facing an expected goals on target (xGOT) of 5.1. This means he has conceded less than half the goals normally anticipated. However, facing Nigeria, with the highest expected goals (xG) total at the tournament (8.59), suggests he will likely face a challenging task in the upcoming semi-final.


Team News-

Despite Osimhen’s struggles with finishing in the finals, Monday night brought shocking news of the Napoli striker’s abdominal discomfort, leaving supporters bewildered, although as at Tuesday evening, the striker has gotten better and joined the other players in camp. Notably, neither Terem Moffi nor Kelechi Iheanacho has seen any game time throughout the tournament.

Regardless of the eventual availability of the African Footballer of the Year, Peseiro is anticipated to adhere to his 3-4-2-1 formation, with Lookman and Moses Simon providing support for Moffi, Iheanacho, or Paul Onuachu if Osimhen is unable to play.

In the upcoming match, Nigeria faces the potential loss of Simon, Ola Aina, or Calvin Bassey to suspensions in a possible final if any of the trio receive bookings on Wednesday. On the other side, South Africa risks the absence of Aubrey Modiba, Grant Kekana, and Mothobi Mvala in a potential final due to their yellow cards against Morocco in the round of 16.

Similar to the Super Eagles, Broos’ team has maintained a clean sheet since their tournament opener against Namibia. The manager, a winner of AFCON 2017, is expected to maintain the defensive lineup that has successfully kept opponents at bay in four consecutive games.

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