South Africa dedicates Cup of Nations qualification to Meyiwa

Thulani Serero scored the winner for South Africa against Sudan. (Getty)

Thulani Serero scored his first international goal as South Africa qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Sudan 2-1 in Durban.

South Africa coach Shakes Mashaba had urged his team to secure the three points it needed on Sunday (AEDT) to ensure it would feature in next year's tournament in memory of murdered captain Senzo Meyiwa.

Goalkeeper Meyiwa was tragically shot dead last month in an altercation involving two attackers on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off at Moses Mabhida Stadium in the first game Bafana Bafana has played since Meyiwa's passing and goals from Serero and Tokelo Rantie ensured Mashaba's side will feature in the showpiece which will now be held in Equatorial Guinea next year.

Salah Ibrahim pulled a goal back for Sudan to set up a tense final, but South Africa, which was captained by Dean Furman, held on to stay top of Group A with one game against Nigeria remaining and is guaranteed a top-two finish.

Darren Keet, who replaced Meyiwa in goal for the host, was understandably emotional in the aftermath of the victory.

"The verse on there (his gloves) was John 15:17, where it says, 'there's no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend'," he said.

"I'm emotional of course, he was a great friend of mine. I just want to pay tribute and honour him. I never got the chance to go to the grave, but I hope he's watching us from above and knows that we are thinking about him.

"I just wish he was here with us, that's all I can say, that's what makes it emotional, is that he is not here with us. We want him here as a team, but unfortunately his time has gone and we have to move on and his memory will stay strong."

Nigeria kept its Cup of Nations qualification hopes alive with a crucial 2-0 win over Congo in Pointe-Noire.

Ikechukwu Uche's penalty and Aaron Samuel's strike provided the perfect tonic to Nigeria's recent woes, with Stephen Keshi back in the dugout even as uncertainty continues to surround his future.

A tight first half yielded few clear-cut chances, but the visitor made the breakthrough just before the hour mark when Emmanuel Emenike was brought down inside the box and Uche kept his cool from the spot.

Thievy Bifouma missed a penalty for the host five minutes later and Samuel wrapped up the points with a tidy finish in the last minute, with angry home fans causing a slight delay when they threw missiles onto the pitch.

The result moves Nigeria into second place, with goal difference pushing it ahead of Congo heading into the final round of games in Group A.

Cape Verde bookec its place with a 3-1 home win over Niger, while Zambia was grateful to Given Singuluma's goal for its 1-0 success against Mozambique.

Ghana missed the chance to seal its spot in Equatorial Guinea as it suffered a 1-0 away defeat to Uganda in qualifying.

The build-up to the match had been dominated by reports that former Chelsea manager Avram Grant is set to take the Ghana job.

If Grant is to take over, he will not have been impressed with the performance of the four-time African champion, which was kept at bay by a well organised Uganda side.

Needing a win to secure a spot at the 2015 tournament, Ghana instead fell behind to an early header from Savio Kabugo at the Mandela National Stadium in Kampala.

Despite enjoying plenty of possession, Ghana could not produce the required turnaround with Milutin Sredojevic's men standing firm to claim all three points.

Uganda has now taken seven points from its five Group E games and is one point behind Ghana, keeping its hopes of reaching the finals very much intact ahead of the final round of qualifiers on Thursday (AEDT).

Ghana hosts Togo in its last group game while Uganda faces Guinea.

Senegal joined Group G rival Tunisia in qualifying, as it overcame Egypt 1-0 away from home, while Algeria maintained its 100 per cent record in Group B with a 3-1 win over Ethiopia.

Malawi did its hopes of claiming the runner-up spot in that group the power of good as it beat Mali 2-0, leaving both sides level on six points heading into the final round of fixtures.

In Group D, Ivory Coast's 5-1 thrashing of Sierra Leone means it needs just a point from its final game to advance, after Congo DR went down 1-0 to Cameroon.


Elsewhere, Burkina Faso and Gabon are assured of their progression from Group C. The former edged past Lesotho 1-0 away from home, while Gabon's clash with Angola ended goalless.

Source Omnisport