William Troost-Ekong said his late goal that earned Nigeria a 2-1 victory over Bafana Bafana and a spot in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals was a “dream moment,” reports AFP.
The centre-back knocked home a corner in the 89th minute in Cairo as Nigeria advanced to the last four of the competition for the 15th time in 18 appearances.
“I dream about moments like this. To score and for it to be important for the team is amazing,” said Troost-Ekong.
“It’s not my job to score, I’m a defender so I was happy we didn’t give away too many chances. After they scored from a set-piece I thought that I wanted revenge.
“We were confident we could score again. We didn’t want to go to extra time because we were going to be tired but I think it was the same for South Africa.”
Nigeria, who won the last of their three titles in 2013, will face Algeria or Ivory Coast on Sunday for a place in the July 19 final.
“I think every game is tough now. We’ve seen big teams lose and go out of the tournament so it’s going to be difficult whoever we face,” said Troost-Ekong. “We came here to try and win the trophy.” It was a telling contribution from Troost-Ekong, after he was unable to prevent Cameroon from scoring two goals in the Round of 16.
He is all smiles again now, though, following his second international goal – which he dedicates to his first child Oscar.
“I am happy for Troost-Ekong, he dedicates his goal to his son Oscar and we are all happy for him,” a delighted coach Gernot Rohr told media.
Nigeria took the lead through Villarreal youngster Chukwueze who stabbed home from close range following a brilliant cut back from Arsenal star Alex Iwobi.
South Africa drew level in the second half in controversial circumstances through Bongani Zungu who headed past Daniel Akpeyi in goal. The Amiens star was in the offside position when he headed in, but the goal was awarded following VAR review.
With the game appearing to be heading towards extra-time, William Troost Ekong popped up to bundle home from a Moses Simon cross in the 89th minute to give Nigeria the victory.
Daniel Akpeyi: Has been criticised in the past, but was solid tonight. His ball distribution was also good. 8
Jamilu Collins: His inclusion was the subject of debate but he rewarded Rohr’s faith with a solid performance defensively and going forward. 7
Chidozie Awaziem: Solid defensively but was poor going forward. 7
William Troost Ekong: Scored the winner and was confident on the ball. 9
Kenneth Omeruo: Dealt well with South Africa’s threat. 7
Wilfried Ndidi: His foul led to South Africa’s equalizer but aside that he was solid. 7
Oghenekaro Etebo: Tidy in possession and could have had a goal if not for the South Africa goalkeeper
Ahmed Musa: His pace was causing dangers for the South Africa right-back but his final ball was lacking which was why it was not a surprise to see him replaced. 7
Alex Iwobi: Provided the assist for the first goal. Was also a constant threat to the South African defence. 8
Samuel Chukwueze: Scored the opener and was a constant threat with his pace and trickery. 8
Odion Ighalo: Following his heroics against Cameroon, he was silent for most parts. But his hold up play was excellent. 7
Moses Simon: Came in for Musa and was effective as he provided the assist for Ekong’s winner. 8
Leon Balogun N/A