Defending champions, Nigeria have failed to qualify for next year’s African Cup of Nations to be hosted by Equatorial Guinea.
Playing in front of their ever supportive home fans at the newly built Akwa Ibom International Stadium, Uyo, the Super Eagles came from 2-0 down to force the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to a 2-2 draw. A result which was not enough to see them through to the finals proper as Congo snatched the maximum points away to Sudan after beating their hosts 1-0.
The Bafana Bafana took the lead in the 41st minute, when striker Tokelo Rantie broke into Nigeria’s box, before brilliantly beating Super Eagles goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
The South Africans, who had already booked a place in Equatorial prior the clash in Uyo, further punished Nigeria just three minutes into the second half as Rantie sealed his brace for the day after out-muscling defender Azubuike Egwuekwe to put the game beyond the champions, who had squandered a lot of scoring opportunities that went in the ways of Ike Uche and Ahmed Musa.
Hull City’s Sone Aluko’s second half brace, however was not enough to save the three times African champions from being eliminated.
Aluko, who came in as a substitute ignited the atmosphere inside the Uyo stadium when he scored Nigeria’s first goal in the 69th minute.
His second came a little too late, seconds before the whistle, thereby putting an end to the Super Eagles hopes of defending the title next year.
Nigeria’s elimination, no doubt will raise questions over the future of coach Stephen Keshi, who was recalled after being fired earlier by the NFF, to handle the country’s last two qualifiers against Congo-a game, the Super Eagles won last weekend- and Wednesday decisive against their South African counterparts.