Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scored the only goal of the game to take the Ivory Coast though to the the African Nations Cup final after a closely-fought encounter with Nigeria.
Drogba beat the offside trap to run on to a long pass from Kolo Toure two minutes into the second half, before placing the ball through the legs of Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The goal inflicted a third semi-final defeat on Nigeria in successive tournaments.
The Ivorians’ opponents in Friday’s final will be known later on Tuesday when hosts Egypt meet Senegal in Cairo.
After falling behind, Nigeria introduced Jay-Jay Okocha, in place of teenage striker John Mikel Obi, but the veteran midfielder was unable to spark a revival for his team.
Okocha had two opportunities from free kicks, the first saved by Jean-Jacques Tizie. A long range effort also went narrowly wide in the 63rd minute.
Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine