Nigeria claimed a dramatic 1-0 victory over Mozambique with the winner coming in the third minute of injury time keeping their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualification hopes alive. Group rivals Tunisia stayed a step ahead of the Super Eagles with an early strike from Issam Jomaa ensuring a narrow but vital 1-0 home win over Kenya maintaining a two-point buffer with one match left to play.
Elsewhere, Algeria got goals from Abdelkader Ghezzal, Nadir Belhadj and a 98th minute penalty from Karim Ziani to take a giant stride towards South Africa 2010 with a hotly contested 3-1 win over Rwanda. The result gives the Algerians a lead of three points over fierce North African rivals Egypt in Group C, plus a four-goal margin heading into a potentially epic final round match between the pair next month. Benin booked a place at next year's CAF African Cup of Nations with a shock 1-0 upset over already-qualified Ghana, as did Mali thanks to a late winner from Frederic Kanoute. In the final match, Guinea scored their 100th goal in qualifying history but fell to Burkina Faso 2-1.
Game of the day
Nigeria 1-0 Mozambique
Goals: Victor Obinna 90+3 (Nigeria)
Though frustrated Nigerian fans stayed away from Abuja National Stadium, the home side's dramatic victory over Mozambique served up the day's biggest drama as Victor Obinna's last-gasp header kept the Super Eagles in with a shout of reaching South Africa. Up until then the continental powerhouse had been frustrated by a top-drawer performance from goalkeeper Joao Raphael Kapango and a surprisingly resilient Black Mambas defence. Denied multiple times on the day by the netminder, Obafemi Martins had a big hand in creating the winner when Kapango could only push away his close-range effort before the ball was sent back into the path of the substitute Obinna to head in from close range. Had they only drawn, the three-time FIFA World Cup participants would been eliminated, however they still need to make up two points at Kenya on the final matchday while the Carthage Eagles visit Mozambique in touching distance of South Africa 2010.
Surprise of the day
Benin 1-0 Ghana
Goals: Mohamed Aoudo 90+2 (Benin)
Despite the fact that Ghana clinched qualification for South Africa 2010 on the previous matchday with a 2-0 victory over Sudan, not many expected the continent's form side to lose their perfect record in the final qualifying round at Benin. However, the Squirrels are a tough prospect at home, and their famous victory, along with Sudan's loss to Mali, clinched a birth at the CAF African Cup of Nations in Angola next year. Even midfield maestro Michael Essien couldn't inspire Ghana, and Benin never looked intimidated at Stade de l'Amitie in Cotonou. In fact, they may have won the match earlier if Black Stars goalkeeper Richard Kingston hadn't been in such fine form, but the Wigan shot-stopper couldn't do anything to stop Aoudo's late winner.
Player of the day
Joao Raphael Kapango (MOZ)
The Mozambique goalkeeper was the inspiration for the Black Mambas as they withstood an onslaught of Nigerian attacks to go within moments of claiming their second scoreless draw with Nigeria in the final round of African qualifying. The Egypt-based player rose to the challenge as the hosts started to lift the tempo late in the first half. He firstly batted away Ebenezer Aljilore's blast just prior to half-time, before saving a pair of swerving free-kicks from Peter Odemwingie on the other side of the break. Obafemi Martins missed a gilt-edged chance of his own near the hour mark when he skimmed the crossbar, but he was left holding his head in the 81st minute when Kapango swept low on his effort. Kapango again denied Odemwingie from a free-kick in the last minutes of normal time, but the winger got his revenge as it was his cross that picked out Malaga striker Victor Obinna for the point-blank header that Kapango had no chance to stop.
546 - Minutes that Ghana had gone without allowing a goal in FIFA World Cup preliminary action before Mohamed Aoudo tallied in the 92nd minute on Sunday. The Black Stars' goal had not been breeched since September of 2008 when they lost at Libya 1-0 and not at all in the final round of qualifying.
What they said
"We are in excellent spirits, and if we maintain concentration and everything goes well we will grace the World Cup. Victory allows us to stay focused before our final game against Egypt because we have put all of the pressure on them," Algeria coach Rabah Saadane.
Click on the link on the right for all the stats on the Africa Zone and the match reports on Sunday's games.