Nigeria take on South Africa in the first Africa Cup of Nations semi-final this Wednesday in what promises to be a thrilling clash at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.
Both teams have been defensively solid throughout the tournament with Nigeria only conceding one goal on their route to the final four – in their opening game against Equatorial Guinea
Nigeria have since then kept four clean sheets in a row.That feat was matched by South Africa in their penalty shootout victory over Cape Verde after Bafana Bafana had held their opponents to a goalless draw to also record a fourth straight clean sheet.
The Super Eagles, who have been short on goals in this tournament, edged past Angola in their quarter-final thanks to Ademola Lookman’s first half strike. It was the only goal of the game and the third time in this tournament that Nigeria have won 1-0.
Only once since the last time Nigeria won the title, which was over a decade ago, have they reached this stage of the competition.
They have lost five of their last six Afcon semi-final matches but that is nothing in comparison to South Africa who last reached the final four in 2000.
South Africa have only won twice in 14 competitive meetings with the Super Eagles
Nigeria were the first side to book a semi-final berth at the Africa Cup of Nations after Ademola Lookman’s first-half goal ensured a 1-0 win over Angola in the last eight.
Lookman finished off a flying run down the left by winger Moses Simon, who skipped the challenge of defender Kialonda Gaspar to break free and then teed up his team-mate for his third goal of the tournament.
Nigeria have now qualified for the semi-final in 13 of their last 15 Cup of Nations appearances and been elevated to the role of favourites at a tournament where almost all the heavyweight contenders have been dumped out.
Nigeria team news
The big news for the Super Eagles is that star striker Victor Osimhen is passed fit to start after his injury in the quarter-final. Elsewhere, there is just one change as Osayi-Samuel replaces Zaidu at left wing-back.
Nigeria XI: Nwabali, Aina, Ekong, Ajayi, Bassey, Osayi-Samuel, Onyeka, Iwobi, Lookman, Simon, Osimhen
Subs: Uzoho, Alhassan, Musa, Aribo, Chukwueze, Iheanacho, Onuachu, Awaziem, Omeruo, Moffi, Onyedika
South Africa team news
South Africa, meanwhile, also make just one change from their penalty shootout win against Cape Verde. Khuliso Mudau is deployed further forward on the right wing, with Thapelo Morena dropping to the bench.
Grant Kekana shifts across to right-back as Siyanda Xulu comes in at centre-back alongside Mothobi Mvala.
South Africa XI: Williams, Kekana, Xulu, Mvala, Modiba, Mokoena, Sithole, Zwane, Mudau, Makgopa, Tau
Subs: Mobbie, Mashego, Appollis, Adams, Monare, Mothwa, Lepasa, Sibisi, Mayambela, Goss, Morena