AFCON 2023: People Behind Curtains.


As Nigeria – the Super Eagles advance to the finals of the 2023 AFCON tournament, after a victorious and thrilling win against their opponent South Africa – Bafana Bafana in a 4-2 match on a penalty shoot-out, the Nigerian national team will go head-on with the Elephants of Ivory Coast, who played against DR Congo in a 1-0 match at the Abidjan Stadium.

Nigeria’s inexplicable performance which secured them a spot in the final against South Africa has brought joy and happiness to the faces and hearts of Nigerians in the country and the diaspora. 

Social media platforms, especially X formerly known as Twitter are buzzing with celebration tweets from Nigerians. There has also been banter between Nigerians and South Africans. South Africans are being dragged for expecting to win the semi-finals following their win at the Grammy Awards with Tyla’s ‘Water’ for Best Africa Music Performance.

Since their most recent triumph in 2013, Nigeria has booked their place in the AFCON finals for the first time, edging past South Africa 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in a thrilling semi-final clash.

However, there would not be a successful match without the people behind the scenes who are not often talked about and applauded.

The VAR, media, security, and commentators of the 2023 AFCON competition are also to be commended as much as accolades are been given to referees, coaches, and players, for a job well done during and after the matches of AFCON 2023. They all played crucial roles in ensuring the excellence and success of the games played.

Nigeria’s ‘Man of the Match’, goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was raised as the hero for Nigeria after he saved efforts by Teboho Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa in a 4-2 shoot-out win, which only provided a partial account of an incredible match in which VAR was the center of attention.


VAR – Video Assistant Referee

Alongside the game officials, the VAR operated in tandem as a team.

In the 85th minute of Nigeria & South Africa match, Nigeria thought they had secured their place in the final when Victor Osimhen tapped home to add another goal to William Troost-Ekong’s second-half penalty, but referee Amin Omar was told to intervene. 

The VAR revealed that South Africa’s Percy Tau had been fouled inside the penalty area at the start of the move and the score went from 2-0 for Nigeria to 1-1.

Also, after the full time of the Nigeria match, during the extra-time, Osimhen was substituted with Terem Moffi, whose first involvement resulted in Kekana being sent off. Moffi had a collision with Kekana just outside the box.

VAR was again required and the referee Omar decided Kekana had fouled Moffi but the contact was just outside the area. Grant Kekana was given a red flag.



The AFCON Security team is also to be acknowledged for ensuring the safety of those who visited the venue and also the footballer’s safety. The security team of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) provided stricter measures to ensure that visitors and football enthusiasts experienced a safer and more secure stay. 

According to the Head of Safety and Security at CAF, Dr. Emeruwa Christian, they worked closely with the Local Organising Committee, Government, Safety and Security Agencies to guarantee visitors’ safety at the AFCON matches.



CAF General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba said: “Media plays an important role in making the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations a success. It is important for the CAF to introduce the best possible conditions for the media to do its work. The Main Media Centre will centralize media events and services. This means media do not need to travel between the two venues for pre-match media conferences.”

The Main Media Center (MMC) was introduced for media services during the games. It provided the media including photographers and broadcasters with a unique working environment. It also ensured that the media in Abidjan were able to follow press conferences from other venues daily.



The commentators also did explicitly well in reporting the activities on the pitch. Even without visuals of the games, one could understand and visualize the game from the reports of the commentators. From the passes of the players to the dribbling of the ball, and netting the ball, the commentators did an excellent job of reporting. 


In a final heat, the Super Eagles and Elephants go head-on against each other on Sunday, February 11, 2024, at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium Abidjan. Africans eagerly anticipate this brutal battle, which will reveal the might of the Ivory Coast’s elephants and Nigeria’s tenacious Eagles.


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