Cape Town - Bafana Bafana were two minutes away of securing an historic victory over the Super Eagles in Nigeria.
As it happened: Nigeria v Bafana
While Bafana had already qualified for the 2015 AFCON tournament with a solid 2-1 over Sudan last week, everything was up to Stephen Keshi’s home side to fight for the three points as nothing less was needed for them to qualify - and stand a chance of defending their crown.
It was not to be though, as Tokelo Rantie surged past Nigeria’s defence, brushing aside Azubuike Egwuekwe and Raheem Lawal and slotted a clinical strike past the ever reliable Vincent Enyeama to give Bafana a 1-0 lead at the break.
In the second half Nigeria looked fresh early on, only for their defence to fall asleep. Rantie pounced on the opportunity and sliced through the defence and with only Enyeama to beat, it was easy pickings for the Bournemouth striker as he gave Shakes Mashaba’s charges a 2-0 lead.
Goalkeeper Darren Keet kept the visitors in the lead for as long as he could, but Nigeria's substitutions proved a masterstroke as Aluko pulled one back in the 68th minute.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane's red card opened things up even more and in the dying minutes, a sensational Aluko strike beat Keet.
However, it was a little too late for Nigeria as they failed to qualify for the tournament in Equatorial Guinea in January next year.
Bafana played a decent all-round game, but lacked physicality up front which forced Mashaba to bring on Moeketsi Sekola for Kermit Erasmus. It would have been interesting to have seen Bongani Ndulula (out with flu) had he had the chance to play.
Tefu Mashamaite showed that his experience will be of good use as his partnership with fellow Kaizer Chiefs defender Eric Mathoho will continue to build over the years at Naturena, with the young Rivaldo Coetzee learning from the two veterans.
Dean Furman was rock solid in midfield and his combination with Andile Jali will be key for Bafana Bafana when they attempt to challenge for the AFCON crown next year.
Finally, Keet showed yet again why he was always No 3 to the injured Itumeleng Khune as well as the late Senzo Meyiwa, as he saved Bafana various times during the encounter.
Bafana Bafana ratings
Darren Keet - 8
Sibusiso Khumalo - 6
Anele Ngcongca - 6.5
Eric Mathoho - 6.5
Tefu Mashamaite - 7
Dean Furman 6.5
Reneilwe Letsholonyane - 5
Oupa Manyisa - 5.5
Mandla Masango - 6
Kermit Erasmus - 5
Tokelo Rantie - 8.5
Moeketsi Sekola - 5.5
Andile Jali - 5.5