Nigeria wins, SAfrica draws in Cup qualifying
Nigeria scored late to beat Namibia 1-0, while South Africa
escaped with a home draw against Ethiopia in World Cup qualifying
Libya claimed a 1-1 draw in Togo in the first round of group
games, while Mali lost away to Benin in one of the surprises of the
Spain-based striker Ikechukwu Uche scored in the 80th minute to
give Nigeria a Group F victory over resilient Namibia in a game
relocated to Calabar because of recent bomb blasts in the Nigerian
central city of Kaduna.
Uche’s winner took Nigeria, under new coach and former captain
Stephen Keshi, to the top of Group F even though it began
qualifying without the English Premier League trio of Jon Obi
Mikel, Peter Odemwingie and Taye Taiwo.
South Africa needed a 77th-minute equalizer in a Group A game to
earn a point after Salahdin Said’s powerful shot put the Ethiopians
ahead in the 30th at Rustenburg. Striker Katlego Mphela saved a
point for South Africa 13 minutes before time ran out, but coach
Pitso Mosimane’s team has still not won in nine games.
Kalen Damessi put Togo ahead in the eighth minute at Lome. Ahmed
Zouay leveled seven minutes later for Libya.
Mali couldn’t recover after Razak Omotoyossi scored at Cotonou
for a 1-0 win, taking Benin to the top of Group H alongside Algeria
with a shocking win over the third-place team at the African Cup of
Uganda drew 1-1 in Angola after Emmanuel Okwi equalized three
minutes from time for the visitors. Niger and Gabon drew 0-0, while
Guinea won 1-0 in Zimbabwe thanks to a 25th-minute goal at Harare
by Ibrahima Traore.
Zimbabwe interim coach Rahman Gumbo was missing a host of
players after they were suspended in a match-fixing scandal that
has rocked the game in the southern African country.
After the first weekend of games in Africa’s main qualifying
competition, Central African Republic is the surprise leader of
Group A ahead of South Africa and Ethiopia. Nigeria took control of
Group F, with Kenya and Malawi second.
Guinea joined Egypt at the top of Group G. Libya and Togo trail
Cameroon in Group I.
The 10 group winners will play off at the end of next year for
five places at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.