AFCON 2023: Super Eagles player ratings in shoot-out defeat of South Africa

AFCON 2023: Super Eagles player ratings in shoot-out defeat of South Africa
Credit: Icon Sport

The Super Eagles of Nigeria booked their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) finals after beating South Africa in the first semi-final clash on Wednesday evening.

Captain fantastic William Troost-Ekong converted a penalty in the 67th minute mark after Victor Osimhen was brought down in the box by Mothobi Mvala.

Nigeria held on to their lead until VAR adjudged Yusuf Alhassan to have fouled Percy Tau in the box. Teboho Mokoena dispatched the spotkick to level the scores and send the game to extra-time.

After neither side could find the winner, the match was decided on penalties where Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho scored the winning penalty for Nigeria to settle the scores 4-2 and send Nigeria to their first AFCON final since 2013.

Nigeria made one change to the side that started the 1-0 quarter-final win against Angola last Friday. Bright Semi-Ajayi came into the lineup while Zaidu Sanusi dropped to the bench in a 4-3-3 formation spearheaded by Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen, and Moses Simon.

This is how we rated Super Eagles players

Super Eagles player ratings

Stanley Nwabali – 8.3/10

The Chippa United shot-stopper was again at his best for Nigeria in the game. His crucial 4 saves in the match kept Nigeria in contention before he denied Mokoena and Makgopa during the penalty shoutout. Nwabali won the Man of the Match award.

Semi Ajayi – 7.2/10

He was outstanding for Nigeria with 1 clearance, 1 interception, 5 tackles and 45 touches. Ajayi won 9 out of 10 duels.

Ola Aina – 6.8/10

Ola Aina had 69% accurate passes, 67 touches, one key pass and made 2 clearances. But he was poor in his crosses with just one connecting to his teammates. He missed his penalty in the shootout.

William Troost-Ekong – 7/10

The captain converted the penalty that should have won Nigeria the game in normal time. He was rock solid in defense with 2 clearances, 1 tackle, and 57 touches. He also netted during the shootout to put Peseiro's side 3-1.

Super Eagles beat South Africa
Credit: Icon Sport

Calvin Bassey – 6.7/10

Bassey had a good game in the centre of defense with 2 clearances, 1 tackle and won 2 duels. His 51 touches with the ball proved his involvement in the game.

Frank Onyeka – 7.5/10

He was key in midfield for the Super Eagles. He was able to break some passes from the rampant Bafana Bafana midfielders. Onyeka made 4 interceptions, and put in 3 tackles.

Alex Iwobi – 7/10

The Fulham midfielder returned to his favourite position and was the second most outstanding player in the first-half after Nwabali but he was substituted in the second half.

Bright Osayi-Samuel – 7.1/10

His inclusion into the midfield sort of gave the initiative to South Africa who enjoyed life in the middle of the pack but he was able to deliver 1 key pass.

Moses Simon – 6.2/10

He was not very effective in the game but while on the field of play, he made 1 clearance. Simon was duly substituted for Chukwueze.

Victor Osimhen – 7.2/10

Osimhen kept on his good performances for Nigeria as he constantly pressured the opposition with his pace. He won the penalty for Nigeria which Troost-Ekong converted.

Osimhen - a long hard road
Credit: Icon Sport

Ademola Lookman – 6.2/10

Lookman has been Nigeria's shining light in the Africa Cup of Nations and was able to create some promising runs. He was key in the Osimhen's disallowed goal after combining down the flank. He had one effort on target and delivered 4 key passes.


Yusuf Alhassan – 6.0/10

Alhassan came on for Alex Iwobi in the 63rd minute, a substitution that put Nigeria in control of the game after he came on but he unceremoniously committed the foul that brought South Africa back into the game.

Samuel Chukwueze – 7/10

The AC Milan forward was brought in to add more bite to Nigeria's attack. He replaced Simon in the 63rd minute

Kelechi Iheanacho – 7.1/10

Iheanacho who only made his first appearance for Nigeria in the 2023 AFCON proved to be the hero on the night. He replaced Lookman in added time and was the player who won the game for Peseiro's side as he converted the winning penalty!

Terem Moffi – 6.9/10

Moffi came on for Osimhen in extra-time and proved to be the player who set the ball rolling during the shootout. He converted the first penalty for Nigeria.

Kenneth Omeruo – 7.1/10

Omeruo came on for Osayi-Samuel Samuel just before the end of extra-time. He confidently put Nigeria 2-0 during the spot-kicks after South Africa's Mokoena had missed from the spot.

Next up for Nigeria

The three-time AFCON champions will battle the winner of Ivory Coast/DR Congo in the final which comes up on 11 February 2024.

For Nigeria, they'll be eager to add to their tally of AFCON wins having been the best team so far in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

This article was most recently revised and updated 5 months ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.