Nigeria Fail to Reach AFCON 2015

Nigeria Fail to Reach AFCON 2015

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 8:05 pm

Defending African champions Nigeria have failed to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations following a dramatic 2-2 draw against already qualified South Africa on Wednesday in Uyo.

Having returned back to contention for qualification with a hard-fought win at Congo last weekend, Nigeria came from two goals down to earn a last gasp 2-2 draw against Bafana Bafana.

But with Congo winning 1-0 in the other Group A qualifying match played on Wednesday, the Super Eagles have finished third with eight points while Congo, with 10 points, have qualified for next year’s competition in Equatotial Guinea.

The Super Eagles made a boisterous start to the match with Ahmed Musa denied by the crossbar after seven minutes, before being denied twice in as many minutes by the South Africa goalkeeper at the quarter-hour mark.

Rantie however gave South Africa the lead four minutes before half-time, beating off two defenders before slotting high past Vincent Enyeama at the near post to leave the Uyo crowd stunned.

Uyo was drowned in further silence three minutes when Rantie got a second goal, showing industry again to get into the area and round Enyeama before placing the ball into an empty net.

Sone Aluko latched on to a spilled save by the South Africa keeper to pull one back for Nigeria 20 minutes later and hand the defending champions a lifeline.

Nigeria was handed a further lifeline four minutes after Aluko’s goal as South Africa was reduced to 10 men after Renielwe Letsholonyane received a second yellow card.

John Mikel Obi had an effort from the edge of the area spilled but eventually saved by the opposing keeper with six minutes to go as time was running out for Nigeria to salvage their campaign.

Nigeria finally pulled level deep in stoppage time through Aluko’s low strike from the edge of the area, but it was South Africa that almost got the win moments later as Rantie was denied by Enyeama from close range.

The result sees South Africa finish the qualifying campaign unbeaten with 12 points from six matches, two points ahead of second placed Congo and a further two points ahead of Nigeria.

DR Congo meanwhile picked the last qualifying spot to AFCON 2015 as best third placed nation in qualifying with nine points courtesy of a 3-1 win at home to Sierra Leone in a Group D encounter also on Wednesday.

The reigning champions’ absence at the 16-team tournament would make Nigeria the second defending champions not to qualify for AFCON after Egypt failed to qualify in 2012.

In the other matches played in the qualifiers on Wednesday, Mali made it through to the finals from Group B with a 2-0 win over Algeria.

The north Africans had already won the group and booked their place.

It was the first defeat of the campaign for Algeria, who made several changes to their starting line-up, and it brought to an end the Desert Foxes’ prefect record.

In the group’s other match, Malawi and Ethiopia drew 0-0, a result which ended both sides’ chances of making it to the final.

In Group D, Cote D’Ivoire needed only a point from their meeting with Cameroon, who had already won the group before the game, and the pair played out a goalless draw.

In Group E, Ghana clinched top place as they comfortably beat Togo 3-1.

The other automatic qualification spot in the group went to Guinea, who beat Uganda 2-0 in their winner-takes-all clash.

Guinea’s qualification comes in spite of their not being able to play any of their group matches at home because of the severity of the outbreak of Ebola in their country.

The countries which will participate in the 30th edition of AFCON include hosts Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Tunisia.

The rest are Senegal, Zambia, Cameroon, Algeria, Gabon, Cape Verde, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, DR Congo, Congo and Guinea.

The tournament has been scheduled to hold from Jan. 17 to Feb. 8.

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