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Football | Africa

Azubuike Egwuekwe © Backpagepix

Nigeria survive scare to reach Chan finals



Nigeria survived a fright in Ivory Coast this weekend to book a place at the African Nations Championship (Chan) finals for the first time.

Leading by three goals after a first-leg qualifier of the competition for home-based stars, the Nigerians conceded two goals within 23 minutes.

But they limited the damage to a 2-0 loss and scraped through 4-3 overall to qualify for the 2014 tournament in South Africa.

Burkina Faso and Ethiopia were taken to penalty shootouts before also securing places at the January 11-February 1 championship.

But Uganda proved far superior to Tanzania in an east Africa showdown, winning 3-1 at home after taking a one-goal first-leg advantage.

Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Ghana have already qualified while South Africa are assured of a place at the 16-team Championship as host nation.

A further three places will be filled later Sunday with Congo-Brazzaville, Mali and Sudan favourably placed to claim them.

Nigeria missed out on the previous two CHAN tournaments after qualifying losses to Ghana and minnows Niger.

And coach Stephen Keshi must have feared another failure as his team made a disastrous start in Ivorian commercial capital Abidjan.

Kevin Zougoula capitalised on a poor back pass from Azubuike Egwuekwe to score on seven minutes at Stade Robert Chambroux.

And the striker from champions Sewe San Pedro struck again midway through the opening half by converting a penalty.

Ivory Coast, who hosted the first Nations Championship in 2009 and also qualified for Sudan two years later, sensed a shock win.

But they could not score the third goal that would have taken them to South Africa on the away-goal rule.

Ethiopia midfielder Minyahile Beyene redeemed himself by scoring the winning penalty in a 6-5 shootout victory over Rwanda in Kigali.

He played in a World Cup qualifier last month despite being barred and Fifa changed a 2-1 win for Ethiopia over Botswana to a 3-0 loss.

The forfeiture meant Ethiopia had a five-point lead over South Africa cut to two and they must beat the Central African Republic to be sure of winning the group.

Michel Ndahinduka netted midway through the second half to give Rwanda a 1-0 victory at Stade Amahoro and level the tie on aggregate.

Frank Kalanda was the two-goal star as Uganda completed a double over Tanzania with an ultimately comfortable win in Kampala.

He struck after just six minutes at Nelson Mandela Stadium only for Amri Kiemba to raise Tanzanian hopes with a first-half equaliser.

The game turned decisively within 20 minutes of the second half as Brian Mawejje converted a Ugandan penalty and Kalanda scored again.

A 4-1 overall triumph continued a great start for Serb coach Milutin Sredojevic after World Cup victories over Liberia and Angola during June.

Niger edged Burkina Faso 1-0 in Niamey via a second half goal from Barka Kade Sami only to lose 5-4 on penalties.

Zambia are well placed to reach the final round of qualifiers in the southern sector after leaving Botswana with a 1-1 first-leg draw.

Festus Mbewe put the 10-man visiting team ahead on 78 minutes in Molepolole near Gaborone and Lemponye Tshireletso equalised.

Winners of the regional Cosafa Cup last weekend, Zambia lost midfielder Alex Ngonga on 56 minutes after a second yellow card.

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