12 October 2014 00:35
The Ivory Coast earned a dramatic win over DR Congo on Saturday, while Nigeria slumped to a lacklustre defeat against Sudan.
Max Gradel’s late goal secured a hard-fought 2-1 triumph for the Ivory Coast in their latest Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Herve Renard’s men had suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Cameroon last time out, but got back on track in Group D by claiming three points in Kinshasa.
Wilfried Bony failed to convert an early penalty following a foul on Yaya Toure, but the Swansea forward soon made amends by glancing home the opener from Serge Aurier’s cross.
The hosts pushed hard to restore parity and were rewarded for their efforts when Evian defender Cedric Mongongu scored a 71st-minute spot-kick.
However, it was Saint-Etienne winger Gradel who had the final say, striking the winner with just seven minutes remaining.
Elsewhere in Group D, leaders Cameroon saw their 100 per cent record come to an end with a 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone.
Pressure is mounting on Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi after his side suffered a 1-0 loss to Sudan in Khartoum.
Bakri Abdelgadir’s powerful 41st-minute header – Sudan’s maiden goal in this qualifying campaign – was enough to seal a shock success for the hosts.
Keshi’s reigning African champions were devoid of ideas going forward and failed to break down a stubborn Sudanese defence, although John Obi Mikel did have a goal chalked off for offside.
The sides meet again next week, with Nigeria now propping up Group A.
South Africa beat Congo 2-0 in the pool’s other match, thanks to goals from Bongani Ndulula and Tokelo Rantie.
Ibrahima Traore’s wonderful goal 10 minutes from time earned Guinea a 1-1 draw with Ghana in Group E.
Asamoah Gyan had given Ghana the lead in the 26th minute of a match played in Morocco due to the Ebola crisis, but Traore levelled to claim a deserved point for Guinea.
Togo ran out 1-0 winners over Uganda to claim their first points.
In Group B, Algeria are on the verge of sealing their place in next year’s competition after maintaining their perfect record with a 2-0 triumph over Malawi.
A win in the return fixture at home on Wednesday will see the North African nation qualify with two games to spare.
Group B’s other encounter saw Mali run out 2-0 victors against Ethiopia, who are yet to get off the mark.
In-form Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was on target for Gabon as they secured a 2-0 win against Burkina Faso, runners-up in the last Cup of Nations, to move top of Group C.
Zambia, champions in 2012, were held to a goalless stalemate by Niger in Group F, while Mozambique defeated the previously unbeaten Cape Verde Islands 2-0.