My crystal ball shows that Sunday’s 2023 AFCON Final will be between the Super Eagles and DR Congo.
That means the Super Eagles will go past Bafana Bafana of South Africa tomorrow, while DR Congo will be too strong for very depleted AFCON hosts Cote d’Ivoire in the other semifinal.
Bafana Bafana will offer a lot more against the Super Eagles than the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde going by the growing rivalry between the two countries.
Even though Nigeria enjoy a superior head-to-head record between the two countries, South Africa have held their own against the Super Eagles in recent times.
The confidence of Bafana Bafana has been further boosted by the ease with which they eliminated tournament favourites Atlas Lions of Morocco in the Round of 16.
The self-belief in the team was further lifted by the heroics of goalkeeper and captain Ronwen Williams, who pulled off four saves in the penalty shootout to dash the dreams of Cape Verde in the quarterfinal.
Williams is one of nine players from African Super League winners Mamelodi Sundowns, who provide the Bafana defence and so their compactness at the back.
In 34-year-old Themba Zwane they have a gifted and influential forward, who on his own destroyed Namibia on the way to the last-four of the AFCON.
He has netted two goals and provided an assist. He has also been named CAF Man of the Match twice.
Coach Hugo Broos was credited with guiding Cameroon to win the 2017 AFCON against most expectations.
He said his current team were not given much of a chance even back home in South Africa.
Like Bafana, the Super Eagles were not among the favourites at this AFCON, but they have gradually mastered a 3-4-3 formation, which allows them to keep out the other team and put the game beyond them for a quality attack to now finish off some of the many chances they create in a game.
Such is the quality upfront that should star striker Victor Osimhen miss tomorrow’s clash, the Eagles still have enough firepower in Ademola Lookman, Paul Onuachu as well as Kelechi Iheanacho and Terem Moffi, two top-rated strikers yet to see action at this tournament.
AFCON hosts Cote d’Ivoire have been riding their luck in this competition after it looked like they were dead and buried following a 4-0 humiliation they suffered at the hands of Equatorial Guinea in the group stage.
However, they bounced back to send defending champions Senegal packing in the Round of 16, before they then sneaked through to the semifinals courtesy of a 2-1 win over next-door neigbours Mali.
It was a very lucky win and it has cost them to miss as many as four of their top stars for tomorrow’s late semifinal – Christian Kouame, Odilon Kossounou, Serge Aurier and Oumar Diakite.
Two-time champions DRC have looked dangerous even without players from the domestic league.
They got past seven-time champions Egypt, before they hammered past Guinea 3-1 to reach the semifinal since 2015.
They will be just too strong for the Ivorians.