South Africa fell 1-0 to Nigeria, leaving the FIFA World Cup™ hosts with a mountain to climb if they are to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
After surviving continuous pressure for 70 minutes, severely depleted Nigeria snatched the winner through Ikechukwu Uche and left Bafana Bafana relying on other results going their way. The first would be an Equatorial Guinea victory in Sierra Leone later Saturday followed by a South African victory in Malabo next month and Nigeria taking at least one point off the Leone Stars in Abuja.
South Africa qualify automatically for the 2010 FIFA World Cup as hosts and will be joined by five other African nations at the quadrennial 32-team showcase of international football. Victory confirmed the Super Eagles' dominance over Bafana Bafana, with Nigeria not having lost a competitive match to South Africa since an apartheid-induced ban was lifted 16 years ago.
"This was the best performance by South Africa since I took charge and we could have scored six or seven goals," said Brazilian coach Joel Santana after his third loss in five matches after taking charge four months ago.
Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu said: "."
South Africa did create a lot of chances but we came to win and so I'm delighted. Winning becomes a habit and that is what I want to instil among my players
It was the fifth consecutive win for Nigeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup-CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition and they have not conceded a goal in 450 minutes of action.
Spain-based Uche, scorer of the opening goal when Nigeria defeated South Africa 2-0 in Abuja last June, broke the deadlock with a low shot past Itumeleng Khune into the corner of the net. South Africa came closest to levelling in the coastal city four minutes later when goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba dashed off his line to parry a close-range shot from Siyabonga Nkosi.