Holders Nigeria Suffer Another Nations Cup Setback

Holders Nigeria suffered another shock defeat in African Nations Cup qualifying on Saturday when a 1-0 loss to Sudan left them facing the possibility of missing out on the chance to defend their title next year.

Nigeria, who won the tournament in 2013, have only a single point at the halfway stage of qualifying and will need to win their remaining three Group A GAMES to stand any chance of playing at the finals in Morocco in January.

Babeker Bakri headed home in the 42nd minute in Khartoum to hand Sudan their first points in the group and leave Nigeria, who suffered their first home defeat in a competitive qualifier for over 30 years at home to Congo last month, rooted to the foot of the standings.

Zambia, the 2012 champions, are also in peril after being held to draw away in Niger, leaving them with just two points from three GAMES in Group F.

Algeria continued to live up to their billing as Africa’s top-ranked team and emerged from the weekend’s qualifiers as the only remaining side with a 100 percent record from three games in Group B.

 Central defender Rafik Halliche headed home from a corner after 10 minutes and Djamel Mesbah added a late second in a 2-0 away win over Malawi in Blantyre that edged them closer to becoming the first team to secure a place at the finals. Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Cape Verde Islands and Congo all dropped points for the first time in their respective encounters. Gabon, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among the scorers, overcame Burkina 2-0 at home in Libreville while Cameroon, after beating the powerful Ivory Coast in their last GAME, were held to an unexpected goalless draw by Sierra Leone.

The match was moved to Yaounde because of a ban on playing at home following the Ebola virus outbreak. Cape Verde, surprise quarter-finalists at the last finals, had their winning run ended in a 2-0 defeat in Mozambique while Congo were beaten 2-0 at home by a resurgent Africa, who now top the Group A standings.

Strikers Bongani Ndulula and Rantie scored twice in two minutes soon after halftime in Noire as Bafana Bafana advanced to seven points. The Ivory Coast and Mali bounced back from defeat in their last qualifiers with wins on Saturday while Togo, led by Adebayor, won their first points with a 1-0 away victory in Uganda.

The Ivorians triumphed 2-1 away at the Republic of Congo with goals from Bony and Max Gradel while Mali won 2-0 in Ethiopia. Ghana, playing under caretaker management after firing coach Appiah last month, conceded a late goal to Guinea in a 1-1 draw in Casablanca. Saturday’s 11 qualifiers were overshadowed by a surprise announcement on Friday that Morocco want to postpone January’s tournament because of fears over the spread of the Ebola epidemic.

The Confederation of African Football on Saturday rejected the idea, but said they would meet the Moroccan government next month for talks on the issue.

Source: Reuters Africa
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