Soccer

Nigeria 1st African team to qualify for World Cup

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CALABAR, Nigeria (AP)

Nigeria qualified for the World Cup on Saturday, continuing an outstanding year for the African champion after it claimed the continental title for the first time in nearly two decades.

Nigeria beat surprise package Ethiopia 2-0 in the second leg of their playoff for a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory.

Victor Moses converted a 20th-minute penalty after an Ethiopian handball, and Victor Obinna made certain of Nigeria's place in Brazil with his powerful free kick in the 82nd at UJ Esuene Stadium. It's the team's second straight World Cup.

''President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan heartily congratulates the Super Eagles of Nigeria,'' a statement from the Nigerian leader's office said.

While Nigeria sealed a place at its fifth World Cup out of the last six, Ethiopia was trying to qualify for the first time after unexpectedly reaching the playoffs ahead of 2010 host South Africa.

But trailing 2-1 from its home leg, Ethiopia gave away an early penalty when Aynalem Hailu was penalized inside 20 minutes after the ball bounced up off his chest and hit his arm. Moses slotted the spot kick and Obinna scored with eight minutes to go and soon after arriving as a substitute.

Nigeria claimed the first of five African places at next year's tournament, and was followed by Ivory Coast later on Saturday. Africa's top-ranked team beat Senegal 4-2 on aggregate after falling behind and then scoring right at the death for a 1-1 draw in the decisive leg of their playoff in neutral Morocco.

In the three remaining African playoffs, Cameroon and Tunisia are level after a 0-0 draw in Tunisia and Burkina Faso leads Algeria 3-2 ahead of their second-leg games on Sunday. Burkina Faso is also seeking to make its World Cup debut.

Egypt hosts Ghana on Tuesday needing a major upset to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990 after Ghana won the first leg 6-1.

If Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana also qualify, Africa will be represented by the same five teams that made it to South Africa's World Cup.

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