Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) has reached its semi-final stage, and the excitement is intense. As some of Africa’s football power houses brace up to race for a slot in the grand finals of the 34th AFCON, Awoko Newspaper takeS a closer look at semi-finalist head to head history and the top eight players to watch out for in these crucial matches.
Head to Head History: For the first match of the day, Nigeria and South Africa are set to clash it out for a spot in the final. Both nations have met 14 times since they first faced each other in 1992. Nigeria secured a quarter-final victory against South Africa with a last-minute goal from William Troost-Ekong in the 2019 AFCON. While Nigeria has been crowned AFCON champions three times, South Africa emerged victorious in their inaugural tournament in 1996.
For the second semi-final between hosts Cote D’Ivoire and DR Congo whose head to head history show that both nations have previously met 10 times and Cote D’Ivoire have won four times, drew and lost thrice to DR Congo. Today’s meeting at the Olympic Alhassane Ouattara stadium in Abidjan at 8:00 PM will mark the 11th meeting between the two nations since they first met in February, 2005 with their closely contested rivalry to continue.
Top eight players to watch
- Ronwen Williams (Goalkeeper, South Africa): The 32-year-old South African skipper and goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams, impressed by saving four penalties against Cape Verde. His experience and influence will be crucial as South Africa faces Nigeria in the semi-finals.
- Teboho Mokoena (Midfielder, South Africa): Known for his set-piece mastery, Mokoena’s last goal buried Morocco’s hopes in the quarter-finals. He’ll play a key role as South Africa takes on Nigeria.
- Ademola Lookman (Forward, Nigeria): The agile Nigerian forward has netted thrice in the tournament, including a brace against Cameroon. Lookman aims to help Nigeria win their 34th AFCON title.
- Moses Daddy-Ajala Simon (Left Winger/Forward, Nigeria): Instrumental for the Super Eagles, Simon’s speed and ball control make him a threat. He’ll face South Africa in the semi-final.
- Lionnel Mpasi Nzau (Goalkeeper, DR Congo): With French League experience, Nzau has been outstanding. He’ll be crucial when DR Congo faces hosts Cote D’Ivoire.
- Yoane Wissa (Forward/Left Winger, DR Congo): His spectacular show against Guinea earned him the player of the match title. Wissa will be a key player in the semi-final against Côte D’Ivoire.
- Oumar Diakite (Forward, Côte D’Ivoire): The 6-foot-tall Ivorian youngster has brightened the Elephants’ corner. He’ll face DR Congo in the anticipated semi-final clash.
- Jean Michaël Seri (Midfielder, Ivory Coast): Proven wrong by bookmakers, Seri’s excellence helped Ivory Coast defeat Senegal. His experience and involvement in goal build-ups make him a standout player against DR Congo. ARW/6/2/2024