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AFCON and the Asian Cup are coming to a head. Which teams will be competing for the championship?

Africa and Asia are experiencing the national football season highlights. The last matches remain to be played in both ongoing continental championships. Who made it through to the finals in Ivory Coast and Qatar?



Africa with AFCON and Asia with Asian Cup are experiencing the national football season highlights. The last matches remain to be played in both ongoing continental championships. Who made it through to the finals in Ivory Coast and Qatar?

Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)

Both semi-final duels of the Africa Cup of Nations were played on Wednesday. The very first one, played at the 40,000-seater stadium in the city of Bouaké, offered high drama. During the opening forty-five minutes of the match between Nigeria and South Africa, each team fired four shots but neither could score.

The favoured Nigerians went ahead in the 67th minute when William Troost-Ekong converted a penalty. However, the Eagles’ path to their eighth final at the AFCON got complicated at the end of regulation time. Victor Osimhen’s strike was disallowed by the VAR referees due to a previous foul in the Nigerian penalty area.

South Africa’s Teboho Mokoena was therefore able to take the penalty kick and equalise. He did so, restoring his side’s chances of progression. There was no decision in extra time, with South African Grant Kekana receiving a red card with five minutes remaining.

In the penalty shootout, Nigeria’s footballers did get the win. They scored four times compared to the opponents’ two shots. The final kick was converted by Kelechi Iheanacho, who will be looking for a fourth African triumph for his country with his teammates in the final encounter.

The representatives of the most populous country on the black continent will face the home team for the valuable trophy. The elephants outclassed the Democratic Republic of Congo in front of 60,000 spectators in Abidjan. The match was decided by a single goal.

Borussia Dortmund striker Sébastien Haller scored it in the 65th minute. As the Congolese were unable to find an answer in the rest of the action, Côte d’Ivoire can look forward to their fourth appearance in the African Championship finals. Ironically, already during the group stage of this year’s championship, the national football federation’s management announced the dismissal of head coach Jean-Louis Gasset and his assistant Ghislain Printant.

If successful, the Côte d’Ivoire team would achieve a third gold, the previous ones being in 1992 and 2003. The last match of AFCON 2024 kicks off at 9pm on Sunday. A day earlier, the bronze medal clash between South Africa and DR Congo is scheduled.

Asian Cup

The semi-finals of the concurrently-hosted Asian Cup in Qatar took place over two days. Tuesday’s match in ar-Rajan brought a surprise. South Korea, regulars at the World Cup, fell short to Jordan, playing among the top four teams at the Asian Championship for the first time.

The players from the Middle East outshot their opponents in the first half, but saved the decisive moments for the second half. After goals from Yazan Al-Naimat in the 53rd minute and Mousa Al-Tamari in the 66th minute, Jordan won 2-0 and are now assured of their maiden medal.

They will face Qatar, who are defending their 2019 Asian Cup title at home, for the most valuable one. However, it was not an easy contest in front of 44,000 fans in Doha on Wednesday. The opponents from Iran created a lead after just three minutes of play with Sardar Azmoun scoring.

The Qataris managed to turn the tide before the break. In the 17th minute Jassem Abdulsallam equalised and in the 43rd minute Akram Afif, the second top scorer of the tournament with five goals, made it 2-1.

But when Alireza Jahanbakhsh converted a penalty six minutes after the break, the game was level again. Almoez Ali’s goal in the 82nd minute proved to be the key when he scored to make it 3-2 to Qatar. The Iranians failed to react accordingly after that and, moreover, they finished the game with ten men after Shojae Khalilzadeh was sent off in a long set-up.

The final will be played on Saturday at the Lusail Stadium, whose stands can accommodate nearly 90,000 spectators. The organisers have set the opening kick-off for 4pm CET. The third-place match is not being played at the Asian Cup.

Source: CAF, AFC