We look ahead to this AFCON 2023 semi-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké with our Nigeria vs South Africa prediction and preview.

Nigeria vs South Africa: Pre-Match Facts

  • Nigeria are the favourites to win AFCON 2023 with the Opta supercomputer, and are given a 52.2% chance of winning this tie inside 90 minutes, and a 63.9% likelihood overall of reaching the final.
  • This will be the fourth encounter between Nigeria and South Africa at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with the Super Eagles winning the previous three by an aggregate score of 8-1.
  • Nigeria and South Africa last met in the semi-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000, with the Super Eagles running out 2-0 winners thanks to a brace from Tijani Babangida.
  • Nigeria are playing in a record 15th semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations, while they’ve only progressed from one of their last six at this stage of the competition, going on to win the competition in South Africa in 2013.
  • Nigeria have won their last four AFCON games without conceding; they could keep five consecutive clean sheets in the competition for the first time since March 1982 (W4 D1), while they’ve never done so when winning all five games.
  • South Africa are playing in their fourth semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations and their first since 2000, when they were eliminated by Nigeria (2-0).
  • South Africa have kept four consecutive clean sheets at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time (W2 D2), while it’s as many as they’d recorded in their previous 21 matches in the competition combined.
  • Nigeria have had just three different goal scorers (excluding own goals) at AFCON 2023 (Ademola Lookman, Victor Osimhen and William Troost-Ekong), their fewest in a single edition since 2008 (two, Yakubu and John Obi Mikel).
  • South Africa have had six shots following a high turnover at AFCON 2023; only Egypt have had more (seven), while only Morocco (nine) have had more direct attacks than Bafana Bafana (eight) in the competition this year.
  • Osimhen has only scored one goal despite attempting the most shots (19) at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations – a shot conversion rate of 5.3%, with an expected goals tally of 3.09; he’s underperforming his xG by a bigger margin than any other player (-2.09).
  • Nigeria have the highest expected goals (8.59) tally and the most big chances (18) at AFCON 2023, with all six of their goals coming inside the box – only Ivory Coast (46) have had more shots from inside the box than the Super Eagles (44).
  • Themba Zwane has been directly involved in 50% (3/6) of South Africa’s goals at AFCON 2023 (two goals, one assist), while he could become the first Bafana Bafana player to score three goals in a single edition of AFCON since Shaun Bartlett in 2000 (5).

Match Preview

We’re down to the last four in Ivory Coast, as Nigeria face South Africa at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké on Wednesday.

The last time South Africa featured in the AFCON semis they faced Nigeria in 2000, and they will be looking to avenge their 2-0 defeat from that tournament.

Nigeria advanced to the final four with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Angola. Ademola Lookman scored the winner for the Super Eagles, making it three goals at AFCON 2023 for the Atalanta winger, joint-second at the tournament behind Angola’s Gelson Dala.

Ademola Lookman xG map AFCON 2023

Victor Osimhen remains on just one goal at AFCON 2023, though he was denied by an offside flag after appearing to double Nigeria’s lead against Angola on Friday. It’s not for a lack of trying, though. No player has had as many as Osimhen’s 19 total shots (including blocks) at the tournament.

It is therefore perhaps no surprise that the Napoli striker is underperforming his xG by a bigger margin than any other player (-2.09). He has a shot conversion rate of 5.3%, with an expected goals tally of 3.09.

South Africa went through on penalties after an absorbing contest with Cape Verde. The game finished 0-0 in normal time, with Hugo Broos’ men winning 2-1 on penalties.

Captain Ronwen Williams led by example to send his team to the semi-finals. The goalkeeper wasn’t called on much during normal and extra time, with Cape Verde hitting the target just twice from their 25 attempts, but Williams saved an incredible four of their five penalties in the shootout.

Williams has had an impressive tournament overall and will surely be key again in this semi-final. He has conceded just two goals at AFCON 2023 from an expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded of 5.1, meaning he has conceded less than half the goals that would normally be expected. However, no other team at the tournament has racked up a higher expected goals (xG) total than Nigeria’s 8.59, so he will likely be kept busy.

Ronwen Williams xGOT

Nigeria vs South Africa Head-to-Head

Nigeria and South Africa have played each other 12 times previously in all competitions, with seven wins for the Super Eagles and just one for Bafana Bafana.

It will be the fourth game between Nigeria and South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Super Eagles winning the previous three by an aggregate score of 8-1. As mentioned, that includes the last time South Africa appeared in the semi-finals of an AFCON tournament, with Nigeria beating them 2-0 in 2000.

Their last meeting saw Nigeria defeat South Africa 2-1 in the quarter-finals of AFCON 2019, with William Troost-Ekong scoring an 89th-minute winner after Bongani Zungu had equalised Samuel Chukwueze’s opener.

Nigeria v South Africa 2019 AFCON stats

Nigeria vs South Africa Prediction

Nigeria v South Africa Opta predictor

Nigeria are predicted to advance to the final with a win over South Africa in this AFCON semi-final tie. Across 10,000 pre-match simulations by the Opta supercomputer, Nigeria won the game inside 90 minutes 52.2% of the time, with Bafana Bafana winning less than a quarter of them (24.6%). There is a 23.2% chance of extra time and therefore possible penalties. Overall, as of writing, Nigeria have a 63.8% chance of going through, with South Africa handed a 36.2% possibility.

Nigeria have been favourites to win AFCON 2023 since defending champions Senegal were eliminated in the last 16, while South Africa have gone from a 2.1% chance of lifting the trophy at the start of the tournament to third-favourites now of the remaining four teams.

Here are the up-to-date tournament projections for both Nigeria and South Africa by the Opta supercomputer:

Nigeria vs South Africa Squads

Nigeria: Olorunleke Ojo, Stanley Nwabali, Francis Uzoho, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi, Chidozie Awaziem, Calvin Bassey, Bruno Onyemaechi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi, Alhassan Yusuf, Raphael Onyedika, Joe Aribo, Frank Onyeka, Moses Simon, Paul Onuachu, Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Terem Moffi, Ademola Lookman.

Coach: José Peseiro

South Africa: Ronwen Williams, Ricardo Goss, Veli Mothwa, Siyanda Xulu, Tapelo Xoki, Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala, Nyiko Mobbie, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Terrence Mashego, Thapelo Morena, Grant Kekana, Themba Zwane, Teboho Mokoena, Sibongiseni Mthethwa, Thabang Monare, Aubrey Modiba, Oswin Appollis, Sphephelo Sithole, Jayden Adams, Thapelo Maseko, Elias Mokwana, Percy Tau, Evidence Makgopa, Iqraam Rayners, Zakhele Lepasa, Mihlali Mayambela.

Coach: Hugo Broos

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our football newsletter to receive exclusive weekly content. You should also follow our social accounts over on XInstagramTikTok and Facebook.