SAINTS midfielder Joe Aribo's Nigeria are through to the Africa Cup of Nations final after beating South Africa on penalties.

Goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was the hero for the Super Eagles in the shootout - saving two of South Africa's efforts - before Kelechi Iheanacho dispatched Nigeria's winning spot kick. 

Former Watford defender William Troost-Ekong scored the opening goal in regular time, sliding a penalty under Ronwen Williams with 23 regular minutes to go.

Victor Osimhen thought he had doubled the Super Eagles' lead with three minutes remaining, but after a VAR check, the goal was ruled out and South Africa were awarded a penalty for a foul in the build up.

Teboho Mokoena made no mistake from the spot and fired Bafana Bafana level to set up a nervy period of injury time.

South Africa were handed a golden chance to snatch a dramatic winner when Mokoena's free-kick was cleared into the path of Khuliso Mudau, who could only fire over. 

Having been an unused sub during regular time, Aribo was introduced in extra time - alongside Leicester's Iheanacho.

South Africa were reduced to 10 men in the second half of extra time when Grant Kekana tripped Terem Moffi as the last man.

Nwabali saved two South African spot kicks in the shoot out before Iheanacho clinically dispatched the winner to send Nigeria into the final.

Loaned out striker Paul Onuachu failed to come off the bench for a Nigeria side packed with star-studded forwards.  

Nigeria will Ivory Coast in the final after they beat DR Congo 1-0 in the other semi-final.

The final is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 11 at the Stade Alassane Ouattara.