Nigeria earned semifinal qualification the hard way against Angola

* The Palancas Negras side exceeded expectations in reaching the last eight as DR Congo power past Guinea to reach semis

* I think we could have won, we fought for the whole 90 minutes—Angola coach Pedro Gonçalves

Maravi Express

Angola’s fairy-tale debut run comes to an end, but they can hold their heads high after matching some of the continent’s best teams having reached the quarterfinals against all odds — in the process forcing Nigeria to earned semifinal qualification the hard way.


The Super Eagles had to work hard for the victory against the Palancas Negras side that had exceeded expectations in reaching the last eight.

Nigeria dominated the early exchanges with Napoli striker Victor Osimhen denied by the crossbar from Ademola Lookman’s pinpoint cross but on the stroke of half-time, Moses Simon turned provider, slipping in Lookman who slotted calmly beyond goalkeeper Guilherme da Costa to give Nigeria the lead.

Angola almost equalised soon after the break when substitute Abrosini Salvador was sent through one-on-one but could only rattle the post with his effort.

The Palancas Negras continued to threaten, but Osimhen looked to have doubled Nigeria’s advantage against the run of play, rising highest to head in Lookman’s cross with 16 minutes left.


But the effort was ruled out by the referee leaving the final minutes of the match in a high tempo for the Super Eagles to advance to the semi-finals for the 15th time as they continue their bid for a fourth African title.

Nigeria will face the winner of this evening’s quarter-final between Cape Verde and South Africa for a place in the final.

Angola coach Pedro Gonçalves, while congratulating the Super Eagles, still thought they could have won the match: “We fought for the whole 90 minutes. We felt sorry for ourselves after conceding the goal.

“We had opportunities to score but we didn’t put them in. I have the feeling of having succeeded in my mission with the Angolan national team. I am aware of the work I have accomplished with my team, no one expected Angola in the quarter-finals.”

Pedro Gonçalves

His counterpart José Peseiro said: “Angola were a very good team but we were out of luck. Once again, we played without conceding, we scored a goal, but I would have liked us to score more. I remain satisfied with the performance of my players so far”.

Meanwhile, DR Congo are through to the semi-finals after a dominant 3-1 victory over Guinea with the Leopards coming from behind to book a ticket in the last four.

The Congolese weathered early pressure from the Syli Nationale before taking control of the tie.

Guinea led through Mohamed Bayo’s 20th minute penalty after he was fouled in the box.

The Guineans were awarded a penalty after Mohamed Bayo fell in the penalty box following a touch from Chancel Mbemba. 

A penalty was overlooked initially but after a VAR review, it was awarded. Mohamed Bayo converted calmly to put Guinea into the lead.

But DR Congo captain Chancel Mbemba rose highest to power home an equaliser from a corner just seven minutes later.

After the break, the Leopards turned the screw. Cedric Bakambu should have put them ahead when he missed a golden chance before Sekou Sylla fired off target for Guinea.

The decisive moment came midway through the second half when lively substitute Silas was brought down in the area allowing Yoane Wissa to slot home from the penalty spot.

Guinea were deflated and DR Congo sealed the win late on when Arthur Masuaku fired in a stunning third goal.

It was a commanding performance from the two-time champions who will face either hosts Cote d’Ivoire or Mali in the semi-finals.

Despite defeat, Guinea can take pride from a run that saw them reach the last eight for only the third time in their history.

But DR Congo’s power and quality shone through as they edged closer to a first African crown since 1974.

DR Congo have qualified for their sixth semi-final in their history, the second in the 21st century after 2015.—Reporting by CAFonline