Odds Favour Nigeria Against South Africa

Nigeria’s Super Eagles and their South African counterparts, Bafana Bafana, will lock horns in Bouake on Wednesday for a place in the final of the delayed 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire.
It will be a repeat of the 2000 AFCON’s semifinal clash that saw the Eagles edged out the 1996 champions 2-0 in Lagos.
The Nigerians are chasing their fourth continental title while South Africans look for a second honour 28 years after their first title in 1996 on home soil.

Today’s game will be the 15th clash between the two countries at full international level with Nigeria winning seven of the previous 14 matches, while five of the matches drawn and two won by South Africa.
With Nigeria’s defence being breached only once after five matches in this tournament and considering their vast superiority in the record of previous encounters, Super Eagles are clear favourite going into the first semifinal in Bouake.
Apart from having to deal with the incredible energy, effervescence and pace of Africa Player of the Year Victor Osimhen, another major problem that the Bafana Bafana will be up against early, in-game and at the latter stages is the intractability of wing-terrors Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon.
Lookman, with three goals in the tournament so far (all coming in the knockout rounds), plus assisting Osimhen to score the equalizer against Equatorial Guinea, and Simon (with two assists) can be fleeting and entirely unpredictable for any defence, with both switching wings at will.

A stingy rearguard, marshalled by on-field captain William Ekong, has been able to provide all the answers to a number of tricky questions by the opposition in their last four matches, and looks as solid as the Berlin Wall at the height of its glory.
But Bafana Bafana matched their run of four consecutive clean sheets as goalkeeper Ronwen Williams delivered the heroics in their penalty shootout win over Cape Verde on Saturday to reach their first AFCON’s semifinal ever in the last two decades.

Head-to-head Records
● 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 CAF Africa Cup of Nations 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 CAF 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 have won their last four AFCON games without conceding; 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 are playing in their fourth semi-final at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and their first since 2000 when they were eliminated by opponents Nigeria (2-0).
● South Africa 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’d recorded in their previous 21 matches in the competition combined.

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