Nigeria have qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after they got a 1-1 draw against South Africa in Johannesburg while the Mediterranean Knights of Libya massacred Seychelles 8-1 to keep their hope alive.
At the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the South Africans could not secure a back-to-back victory over the Super Eagles to qualify for a third straight Afcon finals and their 10th appearance overall.
The Bafana Bafana had beaten Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo in the first leg and could have sealed their spot in Cameroon ahead of the Eagles had they repeated the feat at home.
The Eagles started the game in the ascendancy and they were rewarded in the 10th minute when an incisive right-wing cross from Samuel Kalu, targeted at Ahmed Musa, was helped into the net by Buhle Mkhanazi for Nigeria’s opener. Bafana Bafana did not take much time to recover from the goal setback and they did equalize 16 minutes later through Lebo Mothiba who had Percy Tau do all the hard work.
The Eagles will feel hard done by after two goals, in each half, were flagged offside, with the replays suggesting otherwise.
The draw secured from the match ensured that Nigeria retain their Group E lead and also staged a return to the Afcon finals after a six-year absence.
Even if Seychelles do the unimaginable; defeating them at home in March 2019, they will finish in the top two irrespective of the outcome in the other group match between Libya and South Africa.
Earlier, at Stade Linite, Victoria, the Mediterranean Knights of Libya stormed back to life in a last-ditch attempt to qualify for the 2019 Afcon after they thrashed their hosts, Seychelles 8-1 to complete a double over the minnows.
Ruthless Libyans were 3-0 up at halftime through Motasem Sabbou, Anis Mohamed Saltou (2) in the third, 20th and 32nd minutes and they didn’t rest on their oars after the restart, adding five more goals in the 56th, 59th, 62nd, 85th and 90th minutes through Khalid Almaryami, Salem Baleid, Saltou (again, for his hat-trick), Rabia Al Shadi and Hamdou El Houni.
Seychelles did reduce the massive goal deficit in the 72nd minute through Perry Monnaie.
Monnaie's consolatory effort was the archipelago nation's second goal of the campaign, which stands in sharp contrast to the 22 they've let in.
The win has given a lifeline to Libya as a win over Bafana Bafana will see them pick the second Group E ticket to the finals.
They are currently on seven points, two adrift of Stuart Baxter's men who need at least a draw.