Libya and Ghana booked their spots in Saturday's African Nations Championship final by slim margins, defeating Zimbabwe and Nigeria, respectively Wednesday, Jan. 29.
No goals were scored in 240 minutes of playing time between the four sides, but penalties separated the teams to set up an enticing crescendo to the tournament.
The Mediterranean Knights were slightly fortunate to make it through to the competition's last phase considering it was Zimbabwe who had the majority of clearer chances in their meeting.
However, a far more difficult task now lies ahead—as they already knew it would—in what promises to be a David vs. Goliath encounter between two of the continent's most in-form outfits.
Read on for recaps of the penultimate stage in this year's African Nations Championship.
Zimbabwe 0-0 Libya (4-5 on penalties)
No matter what the Warriors threw in their direction, Libya refused to break at the Free State Stadium against Zimbabwe, although they were admittedly bent very close to the point.
After 120 minutes of playing time, Javier Clemente's men finished with five players on yellow cards, such was the onslaught that they were subjected to.
However, winning ugly is winning nonetheless, and it was thanks to an equally scrappy penalty shootout that Libya now find themselves in the final of the 2014 tournament.
In the end, it was goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula who struck the eighth, decisive spot kick, giving the entire climax that extra touch of uniqueness.
ESPN's Tommy Smyth takes note of just how odd it is for neither side to score a goal in their penultimate tests before the final:
Kudakwashe Mahachi was again one of Zimbabwe's leading men but, along with Simba Sithole and pressure from Ali Sadiki, was unable to make the difference in normal time.
It was far from a glitzy performance from either side, but Libya won't be able to absorb pressure in the same fashion this weekend, where they'll find Nigeria to be a far more clinical oppressor if they try.
Ghana 0-0 Nigeria (1-4 on penalties)
In many ways, it would have been the ultimate entertainment climax for this fixture to have come under finale circumstances, but it wasn't meant to be on this occasion.
As was the case in the earlier semi-final, this meeting of fierce coastal rivals wasn't quite the end-to-end spectacle that it was being billed as, but a cagey affair nevertheless made for an entertaining matchup.
Disaster struck the Black Stars in the second period of normal time when Kwabena Adusei was sent off for a second bookable offence, their chances of easing through extremely shortened as a result.
However, Ghana showed remarkable willpower to barge their way through to extra time, with Abeiku Ainooson in particular holding the defence together and restraining Nigeria from having too many sights on goal.
What would follow was even more surprising, as Akwasi Appiah saw his 10 men not only survive the added 30 minutes, but actually pose the bigger threat come play's end.
As ESPN's Colin Udoh noted, the psychological aspect at this stage is what was most significant:
However, it was nowhere near as close when things came to spot kicks, and three missed attempts from the Super Eagles was enough to see a more clinical Ghana side through to Saturday's final.
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