Ekong powers Super Eagles to AFCON semi-finals over Bafana

Super Eagles By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 10/07/2019

Udinese center-back William Troost-Ekong power Super Eagles to 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 win over South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night.

Gernot Rohr made two changes to the team that defeated defining champions Cameroon in the Round of 16 encounters last Saturday at Alexandria with Ola Aina was replaced by fit-again full-back Jamilu Collins on the starting line-up, while Samuel Chukwueze ousted fellow attacker Simon Moses.

Bafana couldn’t muster the intensity that saw them put the wind-up host nation Egypt from the get-go the previous weekend, with Wilfred Ndidi the first to fire over the crossbar.

Sifiso Hlanti somehow escaped a yellow card after stamping on Chidozie Awaziem in the tackle, before lumbering Lebo Mothiba was booked for fouling the very same Super Eagle.

The Nigerians hit the front when Samuel Chukwueze bundled past the helpless Ronwen Williams after Alex Iwobi’s cut-back had been deflected into his path just before the half-hour mark.

Talisman Thulani Hlatshwayo joined his team-mate in the book for a foul that almost paved the way for Nigeria’s second.

Stoke City midfielder Ogenekaro Etebo struck a mean free-kick that Williams did brilliantly to tip on to his bar but Bafana grew into the second half and pulled level amid the first VAR drama of the competition, with video refs introduced from the quarter-final stage.

Percy Tau’s free-kick was flicked on before Bongani Zungu added the finishing touch with a looping header beyond Daniel Akpeyi it was ruled out for offside by the raised linesman’s flag but after consulting VAR the decision was overruled due to the ball had come off the back of Nigeria’s Odion Oghalo.

But Williams’ missed punch from an 89th-minute corner, coupled with Buhle Mkhawanazi losing the plot, allowed William Ekong to sneak in to secure Nigeria’s spot in the last four and see South Africa’s campaign hit the buffers.