South Africa manager, Hugo Broos, believes that his team played much better than Nigeria and deserved to win Wednesday’s semi-final clash at the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
The Super Eagles reached the final of the AFCON for the first time since winning the trophy in 2013 after battling through a pulsating penalty shootout.
“Football can be hard sometimes, when you see the performance of my team today, and then there is penalties, and then you lose the penalties and you are not in the finals, it’s hard to accept that because we play very good game today,” Broos said.
After playing out to a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time, Nigeria won 4-2 on penalties after Kelechi Iheanacho scored the decisive penalty to send the three-time champions into Sunday’s final against Cote d’Ivoire.
Nigeria scored first in the 67th minute of the game through captain William Troost-Ekong from the penalty spot after Mothobi Mvala brought down Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen in the 18-yard area.
Teboho Mokoena, thereafter, put South Africa level on 1-1, also from the penalty spot, very late in the 90th minute. Mokoena had the chance after VAR ruled that Alhassan Yusuf, who replaced Alex Iwobi on 63 minutes, fouled Percy Tau.
The Bafana Bafana of South Africa could have won the match in the dying seconds of stoppage time, but Khuliso Mudau blazed the rebound over with the goal at his mercy after Stanley Nwabali had parried a shot.
Broos speaking to CAF media in his reaction to South Africa’s defeat to the Nigerian national team, insisted that his team played much better and deserved to win the game.
“I think we were the best team in the first half, we got the best chances, Nigeria didn’t have any chance. Second half they have few chances which resulted in a goal and we changed something tactically, and we could comeback.
“We created more chances which means if we had scored, we would have been in the final and not Nigeria. It is a big disappointment for everyone.
“We believe we played a very good game, not just today but throughout the tournament. I am proud of my players, the disappointment is that we did not reach the final.”
While South Africa will battle the Democratic Republic of Congo in the third place playoff on Saturday, February 10, Nigeria will face Cote d’Ivoire in the final on Sunday.