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Nigeria defeat South Africa to clinch AFCON 2019 semi-final spot

Three-time AFCON champions, Nigeria will clash against Algeria or Ivory Coast for a spot in the July 19 final

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Nigeria defeat South Africa to seal AFCON 2019 semi-final spot
Nigeria players celebrate their victory while South Africa's Bongani Zungu appears dejected after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations quarter final soccer match between Nigeria and South Africa at the Cairo International Stadium. Photo: Oliver Weiken/dpa

William Troost-Ekong’s late winner sent Nigeria through to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday after a tense 2-1 victory over South Africa in Cairo.

Samuel Chukwueze fired the Super Eagles ahead in the first half in front of a healthy, largely pro-Nigerian crowd at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.

But Bongani Zungu’s looping header brought South Africa level on 70 minutes, the goal awarded with the aid of VAR — introduced for the first time at the tournament from the quarter-final stage onwards — after it was initially ruled out for offside.

Centre-back Troost-Ekong then turned home at a corner a minute from time to set three-time champions Nigeria up with a clash against Algeria or Ivory Coast for a spot in the July 19 final.

Left-back Jamilu Collins made his first appearance in Egypt after shaking off a pre-tournament injury while Villarreal forward Chukwueze came in for Moses Simon in the Nigerian attack.

Nigeria defeat South Africa to clinch AFCON 2019 semi-final spot
Nigeria’s players celebrate their win during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) quarter-final football match between Nigeria and South Africa at Cairo international stadium. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

READ: Nigeria topple reigning champions Cameroon in AFCON classic

Stuart Baxter stuck with the same side that shocked hosts Egypt in the last round, as match-winner Thembinkosi Lorch retained his place despite Themba Zwane’s return from suspension.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr had suggested South Africa were favourites in the build-up following their defeat of the record seven-time champions, a tag Baxter promptly rejected with Bafana Bafana’s lone competitive win coming in qualifying for these finals.

Odion Ighalo’s goals have been the driving force behind Nigeria’s run here but it was emerging young forward Chukwueze, coming off a solid debut season in Spain’s top flight, who struck just before the half-hour to end the impasse.

Alex Iwobi skipped past a couple of defenders down the left before pulling back for Chukwueze, who swept into the corner as the ball trickled back his way after a first shot was blocked.

Following a stodgy first half, Nigeria appeared the far sharper after the break, Peter Etebo rattling the crossbar with a superb 25-yard- free-kick destined for the top corner but for the fingertips of Ronwen Williams.

A number of promising attacks fizzled out for Nigeria and their lack of precision came back to haunt them when Zungu hauled South Africa level, nodding back across goal after a Percy Tau set-piece was shown upon a video review to have been flicked on by Ighalo.

But after their stunning elimination of Mohamed Salah’s Egypt there was to be no follow-up act from South Africa as Williams flapped at an inswinging corner and Troost-Ekong forced over the line to clinch victory for Nigeria.

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French police arrest 282 in riotous celebrations after Algeria football win

Some of the arrests were also linked to unrest surrounding events marking France’s national day celebrations on Sunday

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French police arrest 282 in riotous celebrations after Algeria football win
Algeria supporters celebrate after Algeria won the 2019 AFCON semi-final football match against Nigeria, on the Champs-Elysee avenue in Paris. (Photo by Zakaria ABDELKAFI / AFP)

A total of 282 people were arrested in France after unrest following the Algerian football team’s qualification for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the interior ministry said Monday.

Riotous celebrations erupted around the country after Algeria beat Nigeria 2-1 in the semi-final. The arrests were made nationwide on Sunday evening, the ministry said.

Some of the arrests were also linked to unrest surrounding events marking France’s national day celebrations on Sunday.

Unruly scenes erupted in Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. Fifty people were arrested in the French capital and there were incidents between football fans and police on the Champs-Elysees avenue.  

Dozens of cars were torched overnight in the eastern city of Lyon.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Monday congratulated police and firemen for their “speedy reaction and professionalism which contained the violence and to the perpetrators” being apprehended.

Of those arrested, 249 people were in custody.

Last Thursday, when Algeria defeated Ivory Coast to reach the semi-finals, fans went on the rampage in central Paris, looting shops.

On the same day in the southern city of Montpellier, an Algerian football supporter celebrating his team’s win lost control of his car at high speed and ran into a family, killing a woman and seriously injuring her baby.

Paris and Marseille are home to large minority communities of Algerian origin. Football celebrations, with supporters brandishing large national flags, have, on occasion, been a source of tensions.

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Algeria defeat Nigeria to set up Senegal rematch for AFCON final

Algeria will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal for the title on July 19, in a repeat of a group stage clash they won 1-0

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Algeria defeat Nigeria to set up Senegal rematch for AFCON final
Algeria's players celebrate their winning goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Semi-final football match between Algeria and Nigeria at the Cairo International stadium in Cairo. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Riyad Mahrez rifled in a stoppage-time free-kick to earn Algeria a dramatic 2-1 victory over three-time champions Nigeria on Sunday and set up a rematch with Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Algeria led through a first-half own goal by William Troost-Ekong before Nigeria equalised with an Odion Ighalo penalty awarded after a VAR review.

However, as extra time looked necessary, Mahrez blasted in from 20 yards with the last kick of the match to send the Desert Foxes through to their first final since lifting the trophy for the only time in 1990.

Algeria will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal for the title on July 19, in a repeat of a group stage clash they won 1-0.

“We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special,” said Mahrez.

“It was our goal to do it for the people and for our families. We know they are behind us all the way. It’s my most important goal for the national dream. Yes, it’s my dream to win it and hopefully we will be able to.”

An injury to Youcef Atal, who fractured his collarbone during the quarter-final win over Ivory Coast on penalties, forced Djamel Belmadi to start Mehdi Zeffane at right-back, while Nigeria fielded the same team that overcame South Africa here.

Algeria supporters filled most of the lower tier at one end of the ground, dwarfing a small section of Nigeria fans, but there were large swathes of empty seats at the 75,000-capacity Cairo International Stadium.

Mahrez leads by example –

Leading scorers in the tournament and considered the most impressive side, Algeria quickly asserted themselves as Ramy Bensebaini headed narrowly over before a wicked Youcef Belaili cross nearly lead to a goal for Baghdad Bounedjah.

Hesitant defending from Kenneth Omeruo just outside his own area then allowed Bounedjah to nip in, but the Al-Sadd striker could only shoot tamely at Daniel Akpeyi.

Seemingly having moved on from the penalty miss that reduced him to tears in the last round, Bounedjah was consistently proving a nuisance to a nervy Nigeria backline with Jamilu Collins relieved to see a toed clearance land on the roof of the net.

Nigeria countered intermittently as Ighalo dragged wide after Mahrez was caught in possession, but the Manchester City winger promptly atoned as Algeria made the breakthrough on 40 minutes.

After gathering the ball on the right Mahrez danced past Collins before sending over a cross that flicked off the left-back and struck a helpless Troost-Ekong in the midriff before tricking over the line.

Super Eagles boss, Gernot Rohr has praised his side’s resilience, particularly the way they bounced back from a shock loss to Madagascar to eliminate defending champions Cameroon, and Nigeria again hit back with the aid of VAR.

Gambian referee Bakary Gassama initially dismissed Nigerian penalty appeals when a Peter Etebo shot struck the arm of Aissa Mandi but reserved that decision, with Ighalo sending Rais Mbohli the wrong way from the spot for his competition-best fourth goal.

Sofiane Feghouli blazed over late on and extra time beckoned after Ismael Bennacer rattled the bar in stoppage time, but Mahrez won it at the death with a thunderous strike into the top corner.

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Own goal helps Senegal defeat Tunisia to reach AFCON final

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria after he was yellow-carded

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Senegal defeats Tunisia to reach AFCON final | News Central TV
Henri Saivet (L) and Youssouf Sabaly (R) of Senegal celebrate at the end of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semifinal football match between Tunisia and Senegal, on July 14, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt. Senegal advanced to the final. Samer Abdallah / Anadolu Agency

Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last-four clash in Cairo.

With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free-kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net.

Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalise when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee reversed his original decision to award a penalty after watching replays at the VAR monitor.

Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese.

Liverpool star, Sadio Mane began the tournament as the first-choice Senegal penalty taker but, after missing two, opted out before the quarter-finals.

Senegal will miss star defender Kalidou Koulibaly for the final against Algeria after he was yellow-carded.

It was the second caution of the knockout phase for the Napoli centre-back and triggered an automatic one-match suspension.

Senegal last reached the title decider 17 years ago, when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team beaten on penalties by Cameroon in Mali. 

“I congratulate (Tunisia and former Senegal coach) Alain Giresse because he left me a good group. He did a good job in Senegal,” said Cisse.

“The match was incredible because of the uncertainty — it will remain in the annals of African football.”

French football legend Giresse said: “We were equal to Senegal and had opportunities, but did not know how to transform them.

“I am the number one supporter of Aliou Cisse. He will become a coach who will surpass what he achieved as a player. He will win the Cup of Nations.”

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