William Troost-Ekong’s late winner sent Nigeria through to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday after a tense 2-1 victory over South Africa in Cairo.
Samuel Chukwueze fired the Super Eagles ahead in the first half in front of a healthy, largely pro-Nigerian crowd at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.
But Bongani Zungu’s looping header brought South Africa level on 70 minutes, the goal awarded with the aid of VAR — introduced for the first time at the tournament from the quarter-final stage onwards — after it was initially ruled out for offside.
Centre-back Troost-Ekong then turned home at a corner a minute from time to set three-time champions Nigeria up with a clash against Algeria or Ivory Coast for a spot in the July 19 final.
Left-back Jamilu Collins made his first appearance in Egypt after shaking off a pre-tournament injury while Villarreal forward Chukwueze came in for Moses Simon in the Nigerian attack.
Stuart Baxter stuck with the same side that shocked hosts Egypt in the last round, as match-winner Thembinkosi Lorch retained his place despite Themba Zwane’s return from suspension.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr had suggested South Africa were favourites in the build-up following their defeat of the record seven-time champions, a tag Baxter promptly rejected with Bafana Bafana’s lone competitive win coming in qualifying for these finals.
Odion Ighalo’s goals have been the driving force behind Nigeria’s run here but it was emerging young forward Chukwueze, coming off a solid debut season in Spain’s top flight, who struck just before the half-hour to end the impasse.
Alex Iwobi skipped past a couple of defenders down the left before pulling back for Chukwueze, who swept into the corner as the ball trickled back his way after a first shot was blocked.
Following a stodgy first half Nigeria appeared the far sharper after the break, Peter Etebo rattling the crossbar with a superb 25-yard- free-kick destined for the top corner but for the fingertips of Ronwen Williams.
A number of promising attacks fizzled out for Nigeria and their lack of precision came back to haunt them when Zungu hauled South Africa level, nodding back across goal after a Percy Tau set-piece was shown upon a video review to have been flicked on by Ighalo.
But after their stunning elimination of Mohamed Salah’s Egypt there was to be no follow-up act from South Africa as Williams flapped at an inswinging corner and Troost-Ekong forced over the line to clinch victory for Nigeria.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Tuesday said Nigeria accounted for $7bn of the $38.7bn inflows that were secured for the African continent at the maiden edition of the African Investment Forum held in South Africa in 2018
This was disclosed by the Senior Country Director for Nigeria at AfDB, Mr Ebrima Faal, in Abuja on Tuesday at a roadshow to promote the second edition of the forum coming up in South Africa in November.
According to him, the forum convened over 2,000 participants representing 87 countries, including eight heads of governments in November 2018 while deals worth a total of $46.9bn were discussed with 49 deals valued at $38.7bn secured.
He said, “At the 2018 Africa Investment Forum, West Africa accounted for 36 per cent of the deals that were closed. Nineteen projects worth $16.1bn were presented, of which 16 projects valued at $13.1bn secured investment. Our region grossed the highest value in deals, followed by the host region accounting for 22.7 per cent.
“Nigeria was very visible. Out of the 63 boardroom deals presented at the forum, Nigeria had five deals worth $7bn. This represents 14.9 per cent of the total deals accounted for the continent, and 43 per cent of the deals accounted for the region; we can do better.
He added that the Africa Investment Forum aimed to change the face of investment in Africa by bringing together members with a vested interest in Africa’s growth and development through business transformation.
He described it as “a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary collaborative platform for international business and social impact investors looking to invest on the continent. It is a highly-transactional marketplace dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital, and accelerating the financial closure of deals.
“This year, it is paramount that we not only maintain our place as a pacesetter but also collectively strive to improve on the quality and quantity of deals closed,” he noted.
According to him, even with gross international reserves of about $45bn and a pension fund of about N8tn, Nigeria will need a considerable amount of private finance to bridge its cumulative infrastructural needs of about $3tn by 2024.