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banner Friday, 11 February, 2000, 12:37 GMT
Eagles fly into final

Kanu kept Nigeria on track for glory


Nigeria 2-0 South Africa

Tijani Babangida scored two goals as co-hosts Nigeria beat their great rivals South Africa to a place in the final of the African Nations Cup.

Man-of-the-match Babangida rocked the South Africans when he struck after just 40 seconds and then added a second fifteen minutes before half-time to seal a simple win.


Match facts
40 secs: Babangida rifles in the opener
34 mins: The Ajax man scores again
His double strike sent the 55,000 home crowd into delirium and the Bafana Bafana never really recovered.

Army troops had been on standby for the Lagos showdown such was the anticipation surrounding this eagerly-awaited clash between two of the tournament's big-hitters.

The co-hosts rocketed into an early lead in virtually the first move of the game.

Babangida unleashed a fierce 20-yard shot which flew past Andre Arendse to put Nigeria ahead.

The goal blew apart the South Africans, who were without suspended hardman Eric Tinkler.

His place was taken by Thabo Mngomeni, whose slip allowed Babangida his run on goal.

South Africa had no answer to Bangida's pace
The strike lit up the already-noisy Surulere stadium and put intense pressure on the South African defence, shored up by English-based stars Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish.

The Bafana Bafana appeared to have regrouped after the early setback, Siyabonga Nomvete causing all sorts of problems for the Nigerian back four.

But Nigeria, who were without the suspended Austin Okocha, once again surprised the South Africans with the speed of their counter-attack.

Their midfielders strung together a series of lightning passes before finding an unmarked Babangida on the left of the box.

He struck a sweet first-time shot which curled delightfully into the corner beyond Arendse.

South African coach Trott Moloto indulged in some harsh words at half-time.

Babangida wheels away after firing in the first goal
He introduced substitute Alex Bapela who within two minutes of the restart earnt the first booking of the match for an ugly challenge on Babangida.

Raphael Chukwu had a chance to secure Nigeria's place in the final in the 50th minute but South African captain Radebe made a last-ditch tackle to keep their hopes alive.

Nomvete and tournament top-scorer Shaun Bartlett squandered two clear chances to close the gap on Nigeria but with 20 minutes to the home side stepped up the pressure with the introduction of quarter-final hero Julius Aghahowa.

The 18-year-old was inches away from his fourth goal of the tournament but his shot was well-saved.

The miss prompted the introduction of Victor Ikpeba, dropped to the bench because of a public row with his coach, in place of Babangida.

As the clock ticked away the South Africans frustration at their inability to find the net began to show and by the final few minutes they appeared thoroughly disheartened.

They will have been disappointed to be have been beaten so easily by their great rivals, who always appeared to be playing within themselves.

The South Africans failed to exploit clear defensive frailties - but Nigeria may not be so lucky in Sunday's final, which will be against Cameroon.

The game, an eagerly anticipated clash between the continent's two superpowers, attracted a near-record television audience around the African continent.

Teams:

Nigeria: 1-Ike Shoronmu; 3-Celestine Babayaro, 5-Furo Iyenemi, 6-Taribo West, 21-Godwin Okpara, 7-Finidi George, 15-Sunday Oliseh, 8-Mutiu Adepoju, 13-Tijani Babangida, 4-Nwankwo Kanu, 18-Raphael Chukwu.

South Africa: 22-Andre Arendse; 4-Lucas Radebe, 5-Mark Fish, 15-Pierre Issa, 19-Dumisa Ngobe, 8-Thabo Mngomeni, 10-John Moshoeu, 7-Quinton Fortune, 11-Helman Mkhalele, 9-Shaun Bartlett, 17-Siyabonga Nomvete.

Referee: Gamal el Ghandour (Egypt)
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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Mboma fires Lions through
08 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Nigeria fined over pitch invasion
08 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Nigeria through to last four
06 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Early exit for Ghana
08 Feb 00 |  Africa
Senegalese fans attack Nigerians
10 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Coming up: Nigeria vs South Africa
Links to other Cup News stories are at the foot of the page.