Angola and Nigeria come unstuck in Nations Cup

Angola and Nigeria had hopes of becoming the first qualifiers for the 2008 African Nations Cup dashed on Saturday.

A second-half goal rescued an away point for Group Six pacesetters Angola in a 1-1 draw against Eritrea, but the Black Antelopes needed three points to have a chance of building an unassailable lead.

And revitalised Uganda converted two second-half penalties at home to come from behind and defeat Group Three leaders Nigeria 2-1 in a thriller that throws the mini-league wide open with two rounds left.

South Africa consolidated their leadership of Group 11 by crushing visiting Chad 4-0 for a record win and Zambia are now the closest challengers after a 3-0 home triumph over the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Senegal took a significant point in the struggle for Group Seven supremacy by forcing a 1-1 draw in Tanzania while Namibia stayed in the hunt for Group 10 honours with a 1-0 home win over Libya.

Equatorial Guinea dreams of a first appearance at the biennial showpiece of African football received a jolt when losing 2-0 away to bottom-of-the-table Rwanda in a Group Five encounter.

Given little chance after a six-goal mauling in Angola last March, Eritrea shook the 2006 World Cup qualifiers by taking an early first-half lead through Elias Abubaker.

Substitute Norberto “Maurito” Mulenessa spared Angolan blushes with an equaliser on a notoriously hard, bumpy Asmara pitch where powerhouses like Cameroon and Nigeria have failed to win.

A Nigerian team packed with Europe-based professionals put a midweek pay dispute behind them to take a 25th-minute lead through France-based striker John Utaka in Kampala.

David Obua, whose father Dennis played for the Ugandan Cranes in the 1974 and 1976 Nations Cup tournaments, levelled from a 52nd-minute spot kick and Ibrahim Ssekajja was equally accurate from another penalty 13 minutes later.

Sibusiso Zuma scored twice and Siyabonga Nomvete once in their native Durban as South Africa won by four goals for the first time since returning to international football in 1992 after decades of apartheid-induced isolation.

Jacob Mulenga scored the first goal and created the third for Songwe Chalwe after Ngo conceded an own goal as Zambia won unexpectedly easily against the DRC in the northern town of Chililabombwe.

Late inclusion Demba Ba equalised for Senegal midway thorugh the second half in the lakeside town of Mwanza after Aruna Moshi had put Tanzania ahead after 20 minutes.

Namibia climbed two places to second thanks to an eighth-minute winner from Collin Benjamin while Libya cursed their luck after hitting the post twice and crossbar once.

Haruna Niyonzima was the two-goal hero in Kigali, scoring his brace within six minutes during the second half as Rwanda ended a three-match losing run under German coach Michael Ness.

Cape Verde Islands host Algeria in Praia, Morocco entertain Zimbabwe in Casablanca and Tunisia play Seychelles in Tunis later on Saturday with a further 11 fixtures scheduled for Sunday. - Sapa-AFP

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