AFCON: Super Eagles Overrun Angola, Zoom Into Semi-Finals


Lookman and Simon celebrate.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Friday evening, February 2, 2024, blazed the trail, qualifying for the semi-finals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) ongoing in Cote d’Ivoire. The soaring Eagles beat Palancas Negras of Angola in first quarter-final match of the tournament decided at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, Abidjan.

The all-important goal came in the 41st minute when Moses Simon waltzed through the left flank and cut back to on-rushing Ademola Lookman, who fired past Angolan goalie, Signori Dominique, for his third goal of the tournament.

For the Super Eagles, it was sweet vengeance over the Palancas Negras who in June 2005 prevented Nigeria from qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

For the Angolans, ranked 117th in the world – 75 places below Nigeria – it was yet another failed bid to reach the AFCON semi-final for the first time ever.

With the victory over Angola, Nigeria will next Wednesday face either Cape Verde or South Africa for a place in the final.


Stanley Nwabali, GK (4/5): The goalkeeper showed he was fit for the occasion with a second-minute save and continued his commandeering and assured presence. He made a vital save in the opening minutes of the game.

Ola Aina, WB (4/5): He was enterprising and joined the attack at every opportunity. His long throws were a menace.

Calvin Bassey, DC (4/5): He was solid as usual. He covered where necessary, and the timing was on point.

Semi Ajayi, DC (4/5): An unsung hero in the backline. Effective without the flair. It was a solid evening for the languid defender.

William Troost-Ekong, DC (4.5/5): He was rock solid again today, leading Nigeria to a fourth consecutive clean sheet. Arguably the best defender so far in AFCON.

Sanusi Zaidu, WB (3/5): He lacked decision-making and end product. However, his pass put Simon in space to assist Lookman’s goal.

Frank Onyeka, MC (4/5): He covered the entire midfield as usual. His energy kept the opponents on their toes and effectively screened the back three from getting overrun down the middle.

Alex Iwobi, MC (3.5/5): He attempted more forward runs in the game and connected defence to attack with his pass. Heid all the little things right as usual.

Moses Simon, WF (4/5): He was full of running. The skilful winger got it right with the assist and can bring more to the table with better decision-making.

Ademola Lookman, WF (4.5/5): The Atalanta forward used space well. A proven finisher of this side with well-timed runs. A stellar tournament so far.

Victor Osimhen, ST (4/5): Missed headers, but the striker is doing all the dirty, gritty work upfront. He showed intelligence by making the run that opened up the space from where Lookman struck. H scored a towering head but was chopped off for offside after a VAR review.

Alhassan Yusuf, MC (3/5): He maintained midfield solidity in his cameo.

Kenneth Omeruo, DC (3/5): He joined the most solid backline and contributed to another clean sheet.

Joe Aribo, MC (N/A): Late substitute with little time to impact the match.

Paul Onuachu, ST (3/5): He held the ball well to eat the minutes away.

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