Posted by News Express | 18 November 2018 | 1,345 times
Nigeria qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following a 1-1 draw against South Africa at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Saturday afternoon.
The Super Eagles sit atop group E with 10 points and will finish in either first or second spot no matter the result between Bafana Bafana and Libya next March.
South Africa need to hold the Mediterranean Knights, who beat Seychelles 8-1 in Victoria, to at lease a draw if they are to book their place at next year's showpiece in Cameroon.
Following a rather pedestrian start to proceedings, the Super Eagles hit the front with nine minutes on the clock as South Africa conceded a goal for the first time in what was their fifth game of the qualifiers.
Samuel Kalu burst into the area before firing a rasping cross into a dangerous area and, not knowing what was behind him, Buhle Mkhwanazi inadvertently directed the ball past Itumeleng Khune and into the back of his own net.
The goal sparked a breathtaking passage of play with both teams conjuring chances at either end of the pitch before Lebo Mothiba's equaliser in the 26th minute.
Percy Tau bamboozled the Super Eagles defence before squaring the ball to his attack partner who had the easy task of passing the ball into an empty net.
The action sizzled out for the ensuing minutes up until the break, with the deadlocked at 1-1 as the teams headed for a breather.
Chances were few and far between in the second half with the first notable opportunity falling to John Ogu in the 58th minute.
The midfielder's header from Ahmed Musa's corner-kick looked destined for the back of the net, but Themba Zwane was well positioned to clear the danger.
Nigeria were causing their hosts all sorts of problems from set-pieces and the West Africans squandered another glorious chance from a dead-ball situation in the 74th minute.
Kenneth Omeruo lost his marker from a free-kick floated in from the right flank, but the defender failed to direct his header on target with the goal at his mercy.
Musa looked to have fired Nigeria back in front in the 84th minute after bursting through on goal following a defence-spitting ball from Alex Iwobi, but the assistant's flag was raised for offside.
The contentious decision kept Bafana Bafana's hopes of getting all three points alive, but Stuart Baxter's men didn't look like a team that needed a win as the match ultimately ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
South Africa (1) 1 (Mothiba 26')
>Nigeria (1) 1 (Mkhwanazi OG 9')
South Africa: Khune; Mkhize, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Mabunda, Kekana, Serero (Lorch 61'), Zwane, Tau, Mothiba.
Nigeria: Ezenwa; Collins, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo, Balogun, Etebo, Ogu, Iwobi (Ajayi 90+3'), Musa (Onyekuru 87'), Kalu, Iheanacho (Success 69').
•Text (excluding headline) courtesy of SuperSport.
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