The delayed 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament is reaching the home stretch with two crunch semifinals slated for Wednesday, February 7, 2024. South Africa’s Bafana Bafana is scheduled to battle it out with title favorites Nigeria at 8 PM East African time in the first clash of the day.
Hosts Ivory Coast will then lock horns with a strong Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) at 11 PM. Each of the four nations will give everything on the pitch to book a place in Sunday, February 11’s final.
Nigeria won their three titles in 1980, 1994 and 2013. On the other hand, DR Congo have two titles under their belt (1968 and 1974) with Cote D’Ivoire boasting of a similar number (1992 and 2015).
Underdogs South Africa have only managed to triumph at AFCON once, doing so at the 1996 edition which was played on their home soil. In that one-sided semifinal, Super Eagles hammered Bafana Bafana 2 – 0 to book a place in the final against rivals Cameroon.
The goals came courtesy of Tijani Babangida. However, hosts Nigeria were heartbroken when they lost to the Indomitable Lions in a penalty shootout in the final which was staged at the Lagos National Stadium.
The last first meeting at this stage between the two nations took place in 2015 where the Elephants of Ivory Coast proceeded to the final after beating DR Congo 3 – 1. Almost their entire squad is made up of players who play up in the domestic league including their skipper Ronwen Williams who is contracted with Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Leopards have previously featured in the last four at AFCON in 1968, 1974, 1972, 1998 and 2015.