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

Sunday.

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

weekend.

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

Nations.

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.