We have reached the semi-final stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, with the four remaining teams made up of two pre-tournament market leaders in Ivory Coast and Nigeria as well as two surprise packages in South Africa and DR Congo.
Ivory Coast scraped through their group in third, resulting in the sacking of their manager Jean-Louis Gasset, but have shown immense mettle to power through the knockout stage even when staring down the barrel of elimination, especially when reduced to 10 men against Mali in their quarter-final in which they netted late on in regulation and extra time to progress to the semis.
Nigeria’s route has been more straightforward, recording clean sheets in their last four matches as they have won both of their knockout matches to nil.
South Africa have shocked many viewers, as have DR Congo, with both sides regarded as no-hopers by most coming into the tournament.
However, both sides have earned their place in the semi-finals with some exceptional performances along the way and should put up a fight against their more-fancied opponents.
The match will be shown live on BBC Two and Sky Sports Main Event in the UK. The game is also available via bet365 Sports Live Streaming.
The game will be played at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, with a kick-off time of 17:00 GMT on Wednesday 7th February 2024.
Nigeria boast a much stronger squad than their opponents, with plenty of European-based and Premier League players in their squad including the likes of Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman and Alex Iwobi, but their attack is yet to really get firing so far.
The Super Eagles’ last-16 victory over Cameroon was the only match in which they have scored more than one goal, despite their plethora of attacking talent, and three of their last four matches have seen under 1.5 goals.
Instead, their success at this tournament has been built on defensive sturdiness, with the Super Eagles conceding just one goal so far, and they could look to keep things tight once more against South Africa as they look to avoid becoming victims of a giant-killing.
Bafana Bafana have outperformed expectations to an unbelievable level, with many pundits fearing they may not even make it out of the group, but the togetherness of their squad has shone through - especially in their sensational last-16 victory over 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco.
Like Nigeria, South Africa have also been resolute, keeping a clean sheet in their last four matches. Their back four consists entirely of Mamelodi Sundowns players, and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams will be on cloud nine heading into this tie after saving four of the five penalties he faced in Bafana Bafana’s penalty shootout victory over Cape Verde in the quarter-finals.
Both sides are very much defence-first outfits, as shown by their combined eight clean sheets from 10 games at the tournament, and a single goal may be enough to settle the tie - as has been the case in three of Nigeria’s last four matches.
The match will be shown live on BBC Three and Sky Sports Premier League in the UK. The game is also available via bet365 Sports Live Streaming.
The game will be played at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, with a kick-off time of 20:00 GMT on Wednesday 7th February 2024.
The second semi-final sees the hosts take on surprise package DR Congo in what promises to be a far more open affair than the earlier game given Ivory Coast’s defensive struggles in their shaky route to this stage.
Late goals have saved the Elephants in both of their knockout stage matches so far, with a Franck Kessie penalty bailing them out against reigning champions Senegal before Simon Adingra and Oumar Diakite saved the day against Mali to reach this stage of the competition.
With Adingra back, Ivory Coast have looked far more potent going forward and, buoyed by the passionate home crowd in Abidjan, they should have no issues in scoring against DR Congo, who have conceded in four of their five matches in the tournament.
However, the Elephants’ defence has been nowhere near as impressive, with the hosts having conceded seven times in their last four matches, and they could be left even more vulnerable after key centre-back Odilon Kossounou was sent off against Mali last time out.
That will give DR Congo some extra hope of finding the net and, given that they scored three against a solid Guinea side in their semi-final and have netted in all but one of their last six games, they look set to oblige.
Both sides have scored in both of Ivory Coast’s knockout games as their defensive frailties continue to shine through despite their attacking exploits, suggesting an exciting affair with the same outcome looks likely in Abidjan.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.