Nigeria manager José Peseiro paid tribute to South Africa’s resilience, despite his side’s dramatic 4-2 penalty shootout victory in the Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Finals on Wednesday.
The Super Eagles booked their place in Sunday’s final against Ivory Coast after the teams played out a tense 1-1 draw at the Stade de la Paix Stade de la Paix. Nigeria eventually prevailed on spot-kicks to progress to their first final since 2013.
According to Peseiro, his players deserved to reach the showpiece match but had to do it the hard way, edging South Africa in a captivating shootout.
“The players deserve to be in the final. It was a very good victory against a good team,” Peseiro said after the exhausting match. “I said earlier that South Africa have a strong organization as they play together well – and they created problems for us. It was very difficult to beat them.”
The Portuguese tactician emphasised Bafana Bafana’s cohesion under head coach Hugo Broos and applauded their impressive structure.
“I think it was very difficult to beat them. Congratulations to Hugo Broos, who put this team together,” Peseiro stressed. “They played well.”
With the historic victory, Nigeria now set their sights on Sunday’s final showdown with hosts Ivory Coast as they target a fourth AFCON crown at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium — the same venue where they beat the Ivorians 1-0 in the group stages.