There will be no Africa Cup of Nations defence for Nigeria when the best of the continent file out in Equatorial Guinea next January following Super Eagles 2-2 home draw with South Africa in Uyo wednesday night.
Just like in 2012 when Equatorial Guinea co-hosted that year’s edition with Gabon, Super Eagles are going to be conspicuously missing in action. It is even worse this time around because Nigeria has joined the unenviable list of cup holder like Zambia who failed to defend their title at the very next edition.
Against all expectations, Coach Stephen Keshi and his wards finished in a dismal third place in the Group ‘A’ of the 2015 AFCON qualifiers. South Africa topped the group on 12 points while Congo Brazzaville snatched the second ticket on 10 points following their 1-0 victory over Sudan.
Bournemouth striker, Tokelo Rantie, was the star of the South African team with his brilliant brace.
After several wasted efforts by the Nigerian forward with Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike and Ike Uche the greatest culprits, Tokelo easily dash past Kenneth Omeruo and Azubuike Egwuekwe to face Vincent Enyeama on a one-on-one.
The Lille safe hands hand no answer for the brilliant shot fired by the South Africa in the 42nd minute to put the Bafana Bafana one goal up. It was a sheer class act!
Tokelo, spotting jersey number 17 was to return three minutes after the break to increase his tally. That goal completely shut down the home fans that included Governor Godswill Akpabio inside the brand new Ibom International Stadium in Uyo.
But Sone Aluko was to revive hope for Nigeria in the 68th minute when he latched on an Ike Uche rebound shot to drive home a powerful shot to pull back one for Eagles. All efforts to get the much needed equalizer did not materialize until in the stoppage time to tie the game at two-all.
Hopes of Nigeria picking the available best loser ticket fizzled with DR Congo defeating Sierra Leone 3-1 in Group D to end with 9 points. The battle for that slot is between the Congolese and Egypt who had a late fixture against Tunisia last night. Victory for the Pharaohs would mean goals advantage may decide the tie.