AFCON 2023: Nigeria, DR Congo bosses confident ahead of semifinal matches

Nigeria man­ager, José Pe­seiro, has called on his side to be more clinical up front despite boasting the strongest defence at the totalenergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

The Super Eagles are into the semi-finals after a 1-0 win over Angola which represented their fourth straight clean sheet at the competition.

Sébastien Desabre - DR Congo Head Coach
Sébastien Desabre – DR Congo Head Coach

Quietly and without fanfare, Nigeria are steadily advancing in the totalenergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 with a clash with South Africa tomorrow.

The coach and his players are now two matches away from a fourth triumph for Nigeria.

While praising Nigeria’s defen­sive solidity, Peseiro hopes to see improvements in attack.

“Once again we played without conceding, scored a goal, but I would have liked more. The team could have created more opportu­nities,” he said.

With just six goals scored in five games, the Portuguese feels Nigeria are not capitalising on their quality.

“We are a quality team, Angola was very good, but we had more luck. I remain satisfied with my players but want us to be more efficient,” Peseiro added.

The manager did admit that chance creation has not been helped by injury absences.

“We’re missing some key cre­ators like, Iheanacho and Aribo, so it’s been hard. But others must now step up,” he noted.

As Nigeria chase a fourth AFCON crown, Peseiro knows finding a clinical edge could be decisive.

A victory against South Africa tomorrow at the Stade de la Paix in Bouaké (5:00 PM GMT) would bring them closer to this important goal.

Meanwhile, DR Congo Head Coach, Sébastien Desabre, says his side have ‘points’ to win the totalenergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations after finally recording their first victory of the tournament against Guinea in the quarter-finals.

The Leopards had drawn all four previous games against Zambia, Morocco, Tanzania and Egypt, but their 3-1 triumph over Guinea on Saturday earned a semi-final clash with the hosts, Cote d’Ivoire.

For Desabre, the long-awaited win shows his team are hitting form at the perfect time.

“This victory comes at the right time as we are gaining momentum in the competition. We won, we drew, but did not lose,” the French­man said.

Desabre now believes DR Con­go can dream of the ultimate prize. “It would be foolish not to believe in the final victory. But it will be difficult,” he conceded.

The coach feels DR Congo have the firepower to trouble any defence, despite only scoring three goals prior to the quarters.

With momentum building and a first AFCON crown now within reach, the DR Congo boss is daring to dream.

After finally finding their attack­ing spark, Desabre and DR Congo can be forgiven for believing their AFCON fairytale may have a glori­ous ending. — CAF

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