Super Eagles defender, William Troost-EKong scored a late winner as Nigeria defeated South Africa’s Bafana Bafana 2-1 in Wednesday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal clash inside the magnificent Cairo International Stadium, Completesports.com reports.
Troost-Ekong prodded home from a corner-kick smartly delivered by Moses Simon after the South African goalkeeper and a host of heads failed to deal well with the ball and it felled gloriously to the path of Troost-Ekong and the experienced defender made no mistakes with the rare opportunity.
The back-breaking goal overshadowed Zungu’s VAR-assisted equalizer for Bafana Bafana on 72 minutes as Nigeria raced to a dominant seventh win as against South Africa’s two across all competitions since 1992.
It started off as a box to box clash of equal ambition, drive and adventure in this 14th confrontation between the two teams. But scoring opportunities were few and far between with the packed stands enjoying every second of the minutes.
There appeared no clear cut edge and opportunities in the exchanges with joint tournament leading scorer, Odion Ighalo, strangely isolated upfront, rarely seeing action and neither threatened the 1996 winners.
But the lyrics were soon to be rewritten on the 27th minute when match day captain, Ahmed Musa initiated a swift play down the left. He freed Arsenal man, Alex Iwobi who in turn set up Samuel Chukwueze to run in and smash home home into the near post.
It was the Villarreal man’s first international goal and it separated the two teams going into the half time break.
The second period was not far much different from the first but the Super Eagles should have doubled their advantage on 53 minutes when Samuel Chukwueze’s cross from the right could not see any green shirt man inside the area with the ball veering across the face of goal.
Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze continued to keep the Bafana Bafana defence line under constant pressure, but Ighalo appeared surprisingly quiet most of the pulsating game.
South Africa incredibly restored parity on 72 minutes when Zungu headed into the back of the net from a free kick after the ball was adjudged to have came off Odion Ighalo’s body before resting in the net.
The Video Assistant Referee, VAR, was consulted and it confirmed that indeed the goal should stand.
With scores now 1-1 apiece, the Super Eagles stepped up their push for a second goal with on the Musa driving sea, but it was Alex Iwobi who had a glorious opportunity on 82 minutes to restore Super Eagles lead but he directed his left footed effort waywardly over the crossbar.
Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr withdrew Ahmed Musa and introduced Moses Simon in a desperate effort to find the winning goal.
And few minutes after his introduction, Simon made his impact felt as he delivered a second successive corner kick that was turned into the net by defender William Troost-Ekong for Super Eagles second goal and match winner. That was precisely on 87 minutes.
It was a moment of relief as Nigeria extended her supremacy over South Africa with seven wins, five draws and two defeats in 14 matches.
By Adeboye Amosu in Cairo