William Troost-Ekong’s matchwinner gave Nigeria a 2-1 victory and a step closer to becoming Africa Cup of Nations champions.
At the same, the outcome saw South Africa being dumped on the Afcon 2019 also-rans scrapheap.
Stuart Baxter, South Africa’s coach, said that his team did not start out brave enough.
“It’s always sad when you lose a game in the last minute,” said Baxter afterwards.
“In the first half we were not brave enough but in the second we were much better. We still couldn’t find that last touch.
“Nigeria is very dangerous and have some very good players. We tried to win but we lost in the dying minutes.
“Congratulations to Nigeria coach and team and I’m sure they are going to do a great job.”
Samuel Chukwueze, who scored Nigeria’s opening goal, was named ‘Total Man of the Match’.
“We worked so hard to be here (in the semis). I’m very happy we are now in the semifinal,” said Chukwueze.
“We were pushing hard to win this game and it was not easy.”
The German-born Gernot Rohr, coach of Nigeria, said his team was lucky to score
“It was a great match,” Rohr said afterwards. “South Africa is a very good team. They had a very good game against Egypt but it’s too difficult to do this two times in a row.
“We were lucky to score in the last minute, but yet we were mentally strong to do this.
“I salute South Africa for having a great team. What was the best today was the great spirit between the teams.
“Our next game is going to be more difficult, but we will be ready.”