Cape Town - Nigeria smashed South Africa's dreams of progressing beyond the group stages
of the African Nations Championship on Sunday, beating the hosts 3-1 and
ensuring Nigeria joined Group A winners Mali in the next round.
GALLERY: Bafana's Eagles agony!
VIDEO: Fans respond to Bafana's loss
Nigeria needed to win to progress, and win they did, opening the scoring in
the 21st minute.
After some enterprising work down the left flank, Christantus Ejike Uzoenyi blasted
a left footed shot from the edge of the six-yard-box past the goalkeeper and
into the top corner.
Bafana Bafana, who started the game with a defence-first strategy, responded
by adopting a more attacking posture, but to no avail.
On 30 minutes South African ‘keeper Moeneeb Josephs spilled a routine free-kick,
and in trying to regain the ball managed to rugby tackle a prowling Nigeria
Josephs conceded a penalty and received a yellow card for his efforts. He
got a hand to Ifeanyi Ede's penalty, but was unable to stop Nigeria from pulling
Facing an humiliating exit at home in the group stages, South Africa brought
on more attacking firepower in the form of Katlego Mashego.
But Nigeria nearly made it three just minutes into the second half when the
South African defence was caught in possession at the back.
Only a reflex save from Josephs stopped Ede from putting the game beyond
South Africa's reach.
Mashego nearly proved his worth on 61 minutes, when he forced a brilliant
one-handed stop from the Nigerian net minder, who managed to parry his shot
from the end of the box past the post.
But within minutes the game was effectively over, when Ejike collected a
one-two and made it 3-0.
Ejike almost made it a hat-trick on 70 minutes, with his spectacular half
volley from the edge of the box hitting the crossbar.
Some 36 000 Bafana Bafana fans could only look on.
There was a glimmer of hope for South Africa on 74 minutes, when Nigerian
defender Solomon Kwambe was harshly sent off for a late tackle.
But the referee again reached for the red card two minutes later, sending
off South Africa's Vuyo Mere for the same offence.
South Africa got a consolation on 81 minutes from the penalty spot, with
Bernard Parker making it four goals from three group games.
Meanwhile, across the city at Athlone Stadium Mali beat Mozambique 2-1 to
win Group A and ensure Bafane were knocked out.
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