Rio Ferdinand picks sides ahead of Nigeria versus Ivory Coast AFCON final

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FOOTBALL Rio Ferdinand picks sides ahead of Nigeria versus Ivory Coast AFCON final

Festus Chuma 10:00 - 08.02.2024

Rio Ferdinand applauds Nigeria's win over South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has taken to social media to celebrate Nigeria's exhilarating journey to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final. 

The football icon was seen flaunting the Super Eagles jersey in a gesture that speaks volumes about his admiration for the team's remarkable achievement.

Ferdinand's post came in the wake of Nigeria's nail-biting victory over South Africa where the Super Eagles emerged victorious with a 4-2 win on penalties.

The semifinal clash in Bouake ended 1-1 after extra time. William Troost-Ekong's penalty in the 67th minute put the Super Eagles ahead, but South Africa's Teboho Mokoena ensured a gripping finale with a late penalty in the 90th minute. 

South Africa faced a challenging final seven minutes in the match, reduced to 10 players after Grant Kekana received a direct red card. 

The dismissal was due to a foul on Moffi, where Kekana was deemed the last defender, complicating Bafana Bafana's efforts in the crucial closing moments of the game.

Despite Ronwen Williams' previous quarterfinal heroics, the South African goalkeeper could not replicate his form, paving the way for Kelechi Iheanacho to net the decisive penalty and maintain Nigeria's flawless AFCON record against Bafana Bafana.

A notable performance came from Nwabali, the goalkeeper playing for South African top-flight club Chippa United, who made crucial saves during the shootout, denying Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa and becoming an overnight sensation.

The three-time champions will face hosts Ivory Coast, who dominated the Democratic Republic of Congo but had to settle for a 1-0 win in Abidjan, in the final on Sunday.

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