Nigeria Defeats Angola

Nigeria Defeats Angola 1-0 in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Quarterfinal Thriller

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinal match between Nigeria and Angola proved to be a tight and tense affair, with Nigeria ultimately prevailing by the slimmest of margins. In front of a raucous crowd at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Super Eagles of Nigeria faced off against the Palancas Negras of Angola to determine who would advance to the AFCON semifinals. 

Both teams entered the match confident of their chances, but Nigeria’s greater experience and talent won out in the end. The lone goal from Moses Simon in the 63rd minute was enough to give Nigeria a 1-0 victory and passage to the next round.

Match Background

As quarterfinal opponents, Nigeria and Angola brought contrasting histories and expectations into this AFCON matchup. Nigeria is one of the traditional powerhouses of African soccer, having won the Cup three times previously. The Super Eagles were expected to make a deep run this year with stars like captain Ahmed Musa, Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze, and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen leading the squad. Angola, meanwhile, was playing in just their second ever AFCON quarterfinal, looking to spring an upset against their heavily favored foe. 

With tens of millions tuning in from across Africa and the world, this quarterfinal showdown captured significant interest and attention ahead of kickoff.

First Half Characterised by Cautious Play

The opening forty-five minutes of this 2023 AFCON quarterfinal saw both Nigeria and Angola proceed cautiously, as each side was reluctant to overcommit and concede an early goal. Play was largely concentrated in the midfield third as the teams felt each other out with probing possessions. Angola in particular looked to frustrating Nigeria, getting numbers behind the ball while denying space for Nigeria’s quick and skillful attackers. Nigeria had the majority of dangerous chances in the first half, including an early shot by Kelechi Iheanacho that flashed just wide and a close-range effort by Samuel Chukwueze that was smothered by Angola keeper Tony Cabaça. 

However, Angola too found occasional joy getting forward, serving a warning to Nigeria that they could punish any defensive lapses. With both teams prioritizing shape and discipline over adventure, few clear scoring opportunities materialized as they went into halftime locked in a 0-0 draw.

Increased Attacking Play in Second Half

The second half saw both managers urge their teams to push forward with increased urgency to try and break the deadlock. Nigeria began asserting themselves more in Angola’s defensive third, stringing together quicker passes and runs to unsettle their opponent. In the 52nd minute Samuel Chukwueze cut inside and fired a crisp shot that Cabaça did well to punch away. Angola responded with a rapid counterattack just minutes later, with striker Mateus Galiano testing Nigerian keeper Maduka Okoye with a blast from the top of the box. As both sides traded punches looking for that pivotal first goal, the quarterfinal grew increasingly open and frenetic. 

Each defense faced wave upon wave of pressure as the action swept from one penalty area to the other. Fatigue from Angola’s intensive work rate became evident, while Nigeria’s superior talent pushed them closer and closer towards finding a breakthrough.

Moses Simon Scores Eventual Winner for Nigeria

The increasing Nigeria dominance ultimately bore fruit in the 63rd minute courtesy of a fantastic individual effort from winger Moses Simon. After receiving a pass near midfield, Simon took off on a weaving dribble through the Angolan defense that carried him to the edge of the box. 

Simon then cleverly worked himself just enough space to rifle a low shot past the outstretched arms of Cabaça into the bottom corner of the net. As Simon sprinted off to celebrate with his jubilant teammates, the pro-Nigeria crowd erupted in elation over this massive 1-0 go-ahead goal. This superb solo run and strike by Simon shifted the momentum firmly in Nigeria’s favor with just over 25 minutes remaining.

Angola Throws Players Forward in Desperate Search for Equalizer

Finding themselves behind for the first time in the match, Angola responded by making attacking substitutions and throwing more men forward in search of an equalizing goal. Winger Fredy exchanged passes with striker Ary Papel before uncorking a long-range blast in the 73rd minute that sailed narrowly over crossbar. 

Two minutes later Fredy again found room at the top of the box but could only drag his shot wide of the far post. As Angola desperately searched for an opening in the Nigeria defense, they began leaving themselves more exposed on the counter. The Super Eagles nearly capitalized in the 81st minute when Samuel Chukwueze broke down the right flank before cutting the ball back for substitute Terem Moffi, who couldn’t sort his feet out in time. 

Angola poured pressure on in the closing minutes, earning several corners and free kicks around the area that came to nothing. But Nigeria defended stoutly to prevent any clear chances and ultimately see out the victory.

Looking Ahead to Semifinal Against Morocco/Egypt Winner

This crucial 1-0 triumph propels Nigeria into an anticipated semifinal matchup with either Morocco or Egypt, the winner of which will meet Nigeria on February 8th. By making yet another AFCON semifinal, Nigeria reinforced their status as a continental soccer powerhouse, backed both by impressive talent and big match experience. 

If they can replicate this focused defensive performance along with just enough attacking edge, the Super Eagles will fancy their chances of advancing to the tournament final for the first time since 2013. After finally breaking through against a resolute Angolan side, Nigeria carries confidence and momentum into their semifinal clash as they aim to add to their AFCON title haul.


Nigeria and Angola delivered a suspenseful 2023 AFCON quarterfinal that was defined by tactical discipline, missed chances, and one moment of magic by Moses Simon that decided the contest. Simon’s splendid individual goal in the 63rd minute gave Nigeria a hard-fought 1-0 victory to send them through to the semifinals. There they will meet the winner of Morocco vs Egypt for a spot in the February 12th final. After neutralizing Angola’s counterattacking threat, Nigeria stepped up their offensive initiative in the second half, finally getting their reward through Simon’s skill and determination. This narrow win epitomized the fine margins that can determine results in tournament knockout stage games. Heading into the semifinals, Nigeria will look to produce another composed performance supplemented by flashes of brilliance from their talented attack.

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