AFCON 23: Super Eagles Fly Past Antelopes of Angola by a Lone Goal into the Semifinals

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…To play Winner of Cape Verde vs South Africa on Wednesday 7th February in the Semis at 6pm.

The Nigerian Super Eagles on Friday night flew past the Black Antelopes of Angola into the semifinals of the African Cup of Nations in a superlative performance by a lone goal at the Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Atanlata of Italy, Ademola Lookman got a pass from the dribble run of Moses Simon from the left flank to release a bullet shot into Angola’s net in the 41st minute. Lookman was the conqueror of the Indomitable Lions with a brace in the 2-0 win that sent the Cameroonians home. Moses Simon was MAN OF THE MATCH.

An aerial threat by Victor Osimhen with a header in the 76th minute was so powerful that the Angolan Keeper parried it into his net but VAR ruled Osimhen offside even as the stadium roared in celebration.

Stanley Nwabili in goal for Nigeria was amazing as he saved three goal bound shots and this match is his 4th clean sheet (Clean sheet is when a goalkeeper or team did not concede a goal in a match).

Mabulu of Angola coordinated the Angolan forays into the Nigerian territory severally but Nigeria’s stand in captain, Troost Rkong also moved Aina, Bassey and Sanusi to ensure the Angolans never had time to invoke Mother luck to be on their side.

It was a match the Angolans did the playing with much ball possessions 55-45 having better accurate passes but had only 2 shots on target not being good with set pieces especially the corner kicks of 7-4 which was squandered.

Nigeria will now meet the winner of the Cape Verde versus South Africa quarterfinals in the semifinals on Wednesday 7th February at 6pm while the second semifinal will be DR Congo/Guinea versus Mali/Cote D’Ivore at 9pm same day.

The DR Congo will meet Guinea later tonight at 9pm at Olympic Stadium in the 2nd quarterfinals.

Angola’s first choice Goalkeeper, Adilson Cipriano da Cruz aka Neblu missed playing against Nigeria as he was dismissed in the round of 16 match against Namibia in the 17th minute for handling the ball outside the box. However, CAF has reduced his punishment from missing two matches to one because he merely “handled the ball outside his area and did not constitute violent conduct or jeopardize the physical integrity of an opposing player”.

The President General of the Nigerian Football Supporters’ Club, Dr. Rauf Ladipo led his people to embark on street campaign for the Super Eagles in Abidjan distributing shirts and caps to old and young ones and stopping at the Ejigbo Parapo Hall where a sizable crowd including former Captain of the Green Eagles, Segun Odegbami who joined to address the crowd.

There are many Nigerians who hold sway in the commerce and industry in Abidjan including the Yorubas especially people of Ejigbo in Osun State of Nigeria and it was in this city that the former Biafra War lord, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu flew to for asylum and built strong economic base there which the Igbos of Nigeria are savoring today.

Dr. Ladipo extolled the patriotism of Dr. Segun Odegbami, MON, for his massive support to the present crop of Nigerian players on and off the field. It could not be determined whether the street campaign worked as we could not tell you how many Nigerians were at the stands.

Nigeria scored in each match they have played 1-1 against Equatorial Guinea; dumped the Elephants of Ivory Coast by a lone goal and piped Guinea Bissau by a lone goal all at group stages before halting the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 2-0 in a pulsating Round of 16 games. She scored 5 goals so far and conceded 1.

Angola played 1-1 with Algeria; dispatched Mauritania 3-2; humbled the Stallions of Burkina Faso 2-0 at the group stages before arresting the Brave Warriors of Namibia 3-0 in the Round of 16 games.

Nigeria ranked 42 in the world and 6th in Africa is making her 26th appearance at AFCON. She is three times champion with some impressive podium finish. She got Bronze at Ethiopia 76 beating Egypt 3-2; bagged another Bronze in Ghana 78 beating Tunisia 2-0; won in Lagos at 1980 beating Algeria 3-0; got the Silver in three consecutive competitions – Ivory Coast 1984 losing to Cameroon 3-1, at Morocco 88 losing again to Cameroon 0-1 and Algeria 90 losing to Algeria by a lone goal.

Nigeria got Bronze at Senegal 92 beating rivals Cameroon 2-1; became champions at Tunisia 94 with a 2-1 win over Zambia; again lost to Cameroon when Nigeria/Ghana hosted in 2000 via 4-3 penalty shootouts after 2-2 scores to bag the Silver; Got the Bronze with a lone goal victory over Mali at Mali 2002; back to Tunisia in 2004 Nigeria won Bronze with a lone goal victory over Senegal; at Egypt 2006 Nigeria again beat Senegal 1-0 to win the Bronze; in 2010 at Angola Nigeria beat Algeria by a lone goal to win Bronze; she came back at South Africa 2013 under Stephen Keshi to win the trophy beating the Stallions of Burkina Faso by a lone goal scored by Sunday Mba and in 2019 she got the Bronze at Egypt in a lone goal victory over Tunisia. Please note that only podium finish records are presented concerning Nigeria.

The Black Stable Antelopes of Angola ranked 117 in the world and 28 in Africa and has never had a podium finish.

By this victory, the contract of Super Eagles Manager. Jose Pesairo will be renewed in accordance to previous agreement with the Nigerian football authorities.

Tomorrow Saturday, Mali will tackle hosts Cote D’Ivore at 6pm at Stade Bouake in the 3rd quarterfinal while Cape Verde will same Saturday lock horns with South Africa at 9pm in Yamoussoukro.

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