Saturday, November 15, 2014 10:30 pm
South Africa beat Sudan 2-1 on Saturday in their first match since the slaying of captain Senzo Meyiwa to reach the Africa Cup of Nations, where they were joined by Cameroon and Senegal.
South Africa top Group A with 11 points from five matches, meaning they will now not be under pressure when they visit Nigeria on Wednesday.
Ajax midfielder Thulani Serero scored his first international goal for South Africa in the 38th minute, when he slotted home a cut-back from inside the box to give Bafana Bafana the lead in Durban, the home city of Meyiwa.
Tokelo Rantie then doubled the advantage in the 53rd minute, when he dribbled his way past his markers before stabbing home past the Sudan goalkeeper.
Sudan pulled a goal back through Al Hilal forward Salah Ibrahim in the 77th minute from close range.
Meyiwa, 27, the goalkeeper and captain of the South Africa team, was gunned down by an intruder at the home of his pop singer girlfriend south of Johannesburg on October 26.
After Saturday’s game, new goalkeeper Darren Keet dedicated the win to Meyiwa, paying tribute to his friend by sporting a moving, handwritten quote from The Bible on his gloves.
“The verse on there (the gloves) was John 15:17, where it says, ‘there’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend’. I’m emotional of course, he was a great friend of mine,” said the 25-year-old.
“I just want to pay tribute and honour him.”
Congo failed to draw level in the 65th minute, when Vincent Enyeama saved a penalty taken by Thievy Bifouma after Godfrey Oboabona handled a goal-bound shot inside his box.
Substitute Samuel then made the game safe for Nigeria a minute from full time when he struck from inside the box.
Cameroon edged past DR Congo 1-0 to claim Group D and a spot in the finals courtesy of a 71st-minute winner from Vincent Aboubakar in Yaounde.
Zambia pipped hosts Mozambique 1-0 in Maputo to qualify in Group F with table toppers Cape Verde, while Burkina Faso and Gabon qualified from Group C.
Burkina Faso beat Lesotho 1-0 in Maseru and Gabon held Angola to a goalless draw in Luanda.
Guinea blew open Group E after they trounced Togo 4-1 in Lome, and they now have to beat Uganda by more than a 2-0 scoreline in their final match at home on Wednesday to book their ticket to the finals.
Both Uganda and Guinea now have seven points, but Uganda are ahead on the head-to-head rule after they beat the Syli Stars 2-0 in Kampala in September.
Ghana, who are still top of the group with eight points, host Togo, who have six points.
Uganda pipped Ghana 1-0 on Saturday thanks to an early Savio Kabugo goal after the teams drew 1-1 in Kumasi three months ago.
Malawi revived their hopes of qualifying after they beat Mali 2-0 at the Kamuzu Banda Stadium in Blantyre in Group B.
Second-half goals by Robert Ngambi and Esau Kanyenda earned Malawi only their second win in the qualifying series.
The Flames now have six points from five matches, the same as Mali, with Algeria already qualified.
On Wednesday, Mali host Algeria and Malawi are away in Ethiopia.
Senegal joined Tunisia in qualifying from Group G after they stunned seven-time champions Egypt 1-0 in Cairo.
They now have 10 points from five matches, a point behind leaders Tunisia, and they could still win the group on Wednesday, when they host bottom team Botswana.
Mame Biram Diouf scored the all-important goal after only eight minutes for Senegal.
Egypt now need to win in Tunisia to stand any chance of finishing as the best third-placed qualifier.
Islanders Cape Verde won Group F after they beat Niger 3-1. They now have 12 points from five matches, four points more than closest rivals Zambia, who they play away on Wednesday.