AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs South African Preview and Predictions

Nigeria vs South African Nigeria vs South African

It is a case of ‘here we go again’ for Nigeria, who have reached the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-finals for a record 15th time. It has not always been a stage that’s treated the Nigerians well though, as five of their last six appearances in the last four at AFCON have ended in defeat – the one exception being in 2013 when they went on to lift the trophy.

South Africa was the host in that year, and it’s South Africa providing the opposition here, a nation that Nigeria hasn’t been able to get the better of in recent times (W1, D4, L1).

That record will have to tip in someone’s favour here, and on the back of four successive wins ‘to nil’ at this tournament, it’s difficult to look past the Super Eagles as they flock to Bouaké for the first time in this AFCON so far.

That left them with a near 450 km trip from their quarter-final venue of Abidjan, and while South Africa had a much less taxing 110 km journey, they had to endure extra time and penalties to squeeze past Cape Verde in their last eight tie.

Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was the hero behind the victory, as he became the first shot-stopper in AFCON history to save four penalties in a single shootout.
His heroics secured Bafana Bafana a first AFCON semi-finals appearance in 24 years, although they’ll be hoping to go one better than they did that year when they fell at that stage.

Ominously, it was the Nigerians who beat them in the last four then (2-0), but hopes ought to be high of avoiding a repeat here given, like their counterparts, they too are on a run of four clean sheets at this tournament, suggesting this clash could well be a cagey, tense affair.

Players to watch

Usually an unlikely source of goals, Nigeria’s William Troost-Ekong does have one to his name at this AFCON already and he also netted the winner last time these two sides met in 2019. Also, Ademola Lookman is the current Eagles’ highest goal scorer in the ongoing AFCON.

South Africa’s Teboho Mokoena will be keen to have a say too, potentially a late one, given four of his five goals have served as the last of the game.

Hot stat

Only one of South Africa’s last ten AFCON games at the finals saw both teams score.


Nigeria has a historical advantage in their head-to-head matchups, with 6 wins, 1 losses, and 4 draws.

Both teams have been defensively strong in the tournament, with Nigeria conceding just one goal and South Africa matching their run of four consecutive clean sheets.

Nigeria’s recent form includes a 1-0 win over Angola, while South Africa defeated Cape Verde. The last time they met in the AFCON was in 2019, with Nigeria emerging victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.

Based on their recent forms and historical head-to-head record, Nigeria might have a slight edge, but in football, anything is possible.

Therefore, the outcome of their upcoming AFCON semifinal meeting is difficult to predict with certainty.

However, Daily Stand predicts;

  • Nigeria to win
  • Nigeria 2 vs 0 South Africa
  • Under 3.5
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