Nigeria Qualifies for AFCON, 2019 After a Draw with South Africa
The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Saturday drew 1-1 with hosts South Africa in Johannesburg to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) billed for Cameroon in June.
Nigeria opened scoring after nine minutes when a solo run by Samuel Kalu saw his shot being deflected in by South African defender Buhle Mkhwanazi.
The hosts fought back and piled pressure on the Nigerian side, and after some resistance, the visiting side’s defence line caved in.
Lebo Mothiba finished off a pass from Percy Tau in the 26th minute to draw the home side level.
The win moved Nigeria to the top of their 2019 AFCON Qualifiers Group E with 10 points from five matches.
South Africa are in second place with nine points from the same number of matches, while Libya who hammered Seychelles 8-1 in the group’s other match are with seven points.
The group’s final set of matches will come up on March 22, with Nigeria hosting Seychelles who have one point, and Libya hosting South Africa.
Nigeria who have won three matches, drawn one and lost one look set to finish as group leaders.
They have not lost since Match Day 1 in June 2017 when they lost 0-2 to South Africa in Uyo.
A win in March over Seychelles, whom they beat 3-0 in Victoria in September, will set them far apart from either Libya or South Africa.
The Bafana Bafana need to draw against Libya, who will host them in Tunisia in March, in order to stay second and gain qualification.
Libya need a win to finish in second place too, and they look likely to get it based on current form, with South Africa going on to miss another AFCON appearance.
However, all calculations will scatter if Seychelles beat Nigeria, even though this would not bar Nigeria from qualifying since it is only one of South Africa and Libya that can qualify.