The match concluded with a 1-1 scoreline after extra time, setting up a final showdown for the three-time champions against either hosts Ivory Coast or the Democratic Republic of Congo, who will clash later, scheduled for Sunday.
Both goals during regular time were penalty kicks, with Nigeria’s captain William Troost-Ekong finding the net in the 67th minute, countered by Teboho Mokoena’s equalizer from the spot in the 90th minute.
Nigeria had initially celebrated a second goal by star forward Victor Osimhen, only for the play to be reversed following a VAR review, which revealed a foul on South Africa’s Percy Tau in the penalty area.
South Africa had an opportunity to clinch victory in added time of regular play when Khuliso Mudau’s shot went over the bar after goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali parried away a Mokoena free kick. The South African team ended with 10 men after Grant Kekana was red-carded in the 115th minute for a last-defender foul.
Nigeria had maintained a flawless record against South Africa in the premier African football competition, winning all three previous encounters. These victories included a 2-0 triumph in a 2000 semi-final, a 4-0 win in a group stage match in 2004, and a 2-1 victory in the 2019 quarter-final.
Nigeria’s coach, Jose Peseiro, made one change to the lineup, introducing Bright Osayi-Samuel in place of left-back Zaidu Sanusi. Meanwhile, star forward Osimhen returned to the starting lineup after recovering from an abdominal issue.
Supporters in the stadium displayed solidarity with Osimhen by wearing replicas of the protective facial mask he wears due to an eye socket injury sustained three years prior.
South Africa’s coach, Hugo Broos, made one change as well, with Siyanda Xulu returning in central defense. The match saw an intense first half, with South Africa showcasing more shots on target, possession, and corner opportunities.
Despite an early scare with Osimhen clutching his abdomen, Nigeria pushed forward, ultimately breaking the deadlock in the second half through Troost-Ekong’s penalty kick. South Africa fought back, with Evidence Makgopa coming close to equalizing.
The match saw a disallowed goal from Osimhen, followed by the equalizer from Mokoena, leading to extra time filled with drama, including Kekana’s red card, before heading into a shootout.