Thursday February 22, 2024

Nigeria and DR Congo win through to AFCON semi-finals

February 04, 2024

ABIDJAN: A solitary Ademola Lookman goal was enough for Nigeria to beat Angola on Friday and qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, while the Democratic Republic of Congo joined them by coming from behind to defeat Guinea.

Nigerian players celebrate after Ademola Lookman put them ahead against Angola. —  AFP
Nigerian players celebrate after Ademola Lookman put them ahead against Angola. —  AFP

Atalanta forward Lookman, the former England Under-21 international, had scored both goals in Nigeria´s defeat of Cameroon in the last 16 and he made it three in two games as the Super Eagles claimed their third 1-0 victory of the tournament.

The goal came four minutes before half-time at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, with Moses Simon collecting a pass on the left, accelerating away from Kialonda Gaspar and driving into the area before cutting the ball back for Lookman to finish.

That was enough for Nigeria to win through to their 15th Cup of Nations semi-final, which is more appearances than any other country.

Reigning African footballer of the year Victor Osimhen found the net with a quarter of an hour remaining but his effort was disallowed for offside and the Napoli striker is therefore still without a goal since Nigeria´s opening 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea.

Meanwhile Angola had one golden chance to equalise just before the hour mark, when substitute Zini was sent through on goal but his shot came back off the post.

Nigeria have now kept four consecutive clean sheets, validating coach Jose Peseiro´s approach which has been based around making sure they do not concede goals first and foremost.

“They are a good team, but once again we didn´t concede. Once again we scored once,” Peseiro said.

“I would have liked to score more. With better finishing we could have scored another one or two goals, but I am happy. My players deserved it.”

Nigeria advance to a last-four tie next Wednesday against Cape Verde or South Africa in the central Ivorian city of Bouake -- those sides meet in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Angola, meanwhile, go home but this AFCON will be remembered as a success for the Black Antelopes, after they won a knockout tie at the tournament for the first time ever.

“We said among ourselves that if we got to the quarter-finals we would then try to win the tournament. Any team that comes this far has that ambition,” said Angola´s Portuguese coach Pedro Goncalves.

“We like to dream, but you also need to be realistic. The reality is that we were up against a very powerful side with players who play at the very highest level.”