Relive how Super Eagles advanced to AFCON 2024 semis after beating Angola

Nigeria continue to impress in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in the Ivory Coast after cruising into the semi-finals on Friday, February 2.

The Super Eagles had to first overcome a resilient Angolan side, with Ademola Lookman’s first-half strike proving the difference at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.

Jose Peseiro’s side once again kept a clean sheet – their fourth in five matches at the AFCON – and made their intention of annexing a fourth continental crown clear.

nigeria celebrates Super eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

With Senegal, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt all out of the tournament, Nigeria are now the highest-ranked team remaining in AFCON and that effectively makes them the odds-on favourites.

The West African nation has so far lived up to expectations with their performances and results, and they once again rose to the occasion against Angola in the quarter-finals.

Let’s relive the key moments as the Super Eagles defeated the Palancas Negras to book their place in the semi-finals.

Chukwueze leads Super Eagles pre-match dancing ritual

As has been the case for every game they’ve played in the AFCON, Nigeria arrived at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in jubilant mode.

The players and staff were singing and dancing as they arrived at the stadium, signalling how unfazed they were ahead of the challenge against Angola.

It has almost become like a pre-match ritual for the Super Eagles, with some of the players previously attesting that dancing and singing help calm their nerves, build morale and keep them in high spirits for the game ahead.

AC Milan winger Samuel Chukwueze led the pre-match dancing this time, as his teammates followed suit.

Nigeria legend Okocha reunites with Maieco after 18 years

Before kick-off, the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) recreated an iconic moment from 18 years ago when Jay-Jay Okocha and Fabrice Maieco ‘Akwa’ reunited at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.

The pair last crossed paths in a competitive game during a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier, where Angola beat Nigeria to top their group and consequently qualify for the Mundial.

The Super Eagles were beaten 1-0 away in Angola, before being held to a 1-1 draw at home, which denied them a place at the World Cup in Germany.

Okocha and Maieco captained their respective countries in that clash and, now legends, both men showed up to support their national teams in the AFCON round of 16. This time, though, it was the Super Eagles who turned out victorious.

Simon and Lookman combine for the Nigeria opening goal

The defining moment of the quarter-final encounter between Nigeria and Angola came in the 41st minute when Moses Simon went on an incredible solo run before setting up Ademola Lookman to score.

Before that, there weren’t many chances for both teams and even the usually dangerous Victor Osimhen had been kept in check. Angola, however, had a glorious opportunity to equalise in the second half when substitute Zini found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali. Still, the forward’s effort hit the post.

Nigeria were also unlucky not to have gone 2-0 up after Osimhen was marginally ruled to be offside after his towering header found the back of the net. Lookman’s first-half goal, though, ended up separating the two teams.

Wild celebrations as Super Eagles book semi-final spot

In the aftermath of the game, there were wild celebrations among the Nigerian players, technical staff and fans.

On the pitch, there were hugs and smiles, while Nwabali and Osimhen created an iconic photo that typified the unity in camp after the former carried the latter on his back.

Politician Peter Obi spotted among joyous Nigeria fans

In the stands, however, there was bedlam among the fans, many of whom could not believe they were celebrating the team’s victory in the company of politician Peter Obi.

The 2023 presidential candidate for the opposition Labour Party was present at the game and humbly decided to sit within the fans, rather than opt for a VIP seat.

Obi, sporting a retro Nigerian jersey, was captured jubilating with the supporters, also clad in Nigeria’s famed green and white colours.

Super Eagles players, staff thank Nigeria fans

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles and the entire staff expressed their gratitude to the supporters who were in the stadium by thanking them after the game.

The players moved towards the fans and applauded them for making the journey to Ivory Coast to support the national team.

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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.