Minnows Ethiopia eliminated South Africa from the World Cup Africa zone qualifying competition on Saturday by fighting back to defeat Central African Republic 2-1 in Congo.
The ‘Walias Antelopes’ topped Group ‘A’ with 13 points, two more than 2010 World Cup host South Africa, the latter’s 4-1 home win over Botswana in Durban proving futile.
“Not qualifying for the final round is a huge personal disappointment,” admitted South Africa coach Gordon Igesund.
Ethiopia, bottom seeds in a mini-league expected to be dominated by South Africa, joined Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria in two-leg play-offs.
Nigeria overcame Malawi 2-0 in Calabar to win Group ‘F’ with the match settled early on in the second half when Victor Moses converted a penalty and Malawian Limbikani Mzava was red-carded.
Long-time leader Congo Brazzaville needed maximum points in Niger, but could manage only a 2-2 draw after falling behind twice to goals from Mahamane Cisse and Daouda Kamilou.
Minyahel Teshome was an ironic 61st-minute match-winner for Ethiopia in a match switched from Bangui to Brazzaville because of security concerns.
Teshome played in an away win over Botswana when suspended, resulting in Ethiopia being docked three points and having qualification put on hold.
Central African Republic, out of the reckoning after four losses in a row, took the lead when Salif Keita scored midway through the opening half in the Congolese capital. After both goalkeepers made outstanding late opening-half saves, Salahdin Ahmed levelled three minutes into the second half.
The results: Group ‘A’: At Durban: South Africa 4 (Erasmus 28, Furman 45+2, Parker 84, 90-pen) bt Botswana 1 (Ramatlhakwane 72).
At Brazzaville (Congo): Central African Republic 1 (Keita 23) lost to Ethiopia 2 (Ahmed 48, Teshome 61). Ethiopia tops group and qualifies for third round play-offs.
Group ‘E’: At Niamey: Niger 2 (Cisse 34, Kamilou 70) drew with Congo Brazzaville 2 (Nguessi 66, Kapolongo 76).
At Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso 1 (Nakoulma 54) bt Gabon 0. Burkina Faso tops group.
Group ‘F’: At Calabar: Nigeria 2 (Emenike 45+1, Moses 51-pen) bt Malawi 0. Nigeria wins group.
Group ‘J’: At Lubango: Angola 4 (Guedes 23, Mabululu 48, Guilherme 61, Abdul 64) Liberia 1 (Macauley 79).