AFCON 2024: Nigeria-South Africa, Ivory Coast-DRC… What You Need to Know About the Semi-finals

What you need to know about the semi-finals
The final four of this Ivorian Africa Cup of Nations pits four former winners with very different profiles against each other. The experienced Nigeria faces the resurgent South Africans, while the miraculous Ivory Coast faces a transformed Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)… Focus on the semi-finalists of this 2024 AFCON. The national team has an impressive track record: it is the 15th time they have reached the final four.

The numbers are strong, very strong indeed. However, they still need to get past the hurdle of the semi-finals… Eight out of 15 times, Nigeria has failed at this stage.

Despite being the team that has appeared on the podium the most times, they only rank fourth in the list of most titles, behind Egypt, Cameroon, and Ghana. After a successful period at the end of the last century – being African champions in 1996, runners-up in 1998, and third place in 2000 – South Africa had since fallen back, never doing better than reaching the quarter-finals. In thirteen encounters, South Africa has only won twice (never in a final stage of a competition), while Nigeria has won seven times.

Their last face-off was at the 2019 AFCON, with Nigeria winning in the final minutes of the quarter-final (2-1). And they have overturned everything in their path. The defending champion Senegal?

Mali, who had a numerical advantage for a large part of the quarter-final? Fueled by popular support and a regained mental strength, the Elephants are back in the final four for the first time since their last triumph in 2015. How far can they go?

And today, we are in the semi-final. As Chancel (Mbemba) said, it’s God’s justice*! * » When commenting on their deserved qualification for the semi-finals against Guinea, winger Théo Bongonda did not forget where the DRC comes from.

The transformation is undeniable, from the team that had a shaky start in the AFCON qualifiers to the one that is no longer a laughing matter. In the meantime, Sebastien Desabre has taken charge and given them a new lease of life and an impeccable spirit. The favored Moroccans, the tough Egyptians, and the brave Guineans have all fallen victim to them.

Nine years ago, their dream of reaching the final – a feat they have not achieved since 1974 – was shattered by… Ivory Coast, the future African champion. Clearly, the Leopards would be delighted to avenge that defeat against the Elephants in their home turf of Ébimpé. All the ingredients for an intense semi-final are in place.

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