Nigeria suffer shock Afcon defeat to Congo Brazzaville

Thievy Bifouma
Thievy Bifouma

Congo Brazzaville produced a shock victory in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, beating Nigeria 3-2 in their Group A match in Calabar.

It is the first time Nigeria have lost a competitive home game in 33 years.

The Super Eagles fell apart in quite extraordinary fashion in Calabar - a reflection perhaps of the chaos engulfing Nigerian football at the moment.

Elsewhere on Saturday, there were also away wins for Cameroon, Algeria and Cape Verde on a day when 11 group qualifiers were scheduled across the continent.

Nigeria, the reigning African champions, took the lead against Congo after 13 minutes when Efe Ambrose's header managed to find a way past Congo goalkeeper Massa Chansel.

But the lead did not last long as Prince Oniangue took advantage of some slack marking and equalised for the Red Devils two minutes later.

It was a tricky game played on a bumpy pitch which made ball-control nearly impossible.

As Nigeria struggled to find drive and creativity, disaster struck.

Just moments after goalkeeper Austin Ejide had done well to keep out a superb free kick by Francis Nganga, the visitors went in front on 40 minutes when Thievy Bifouma (pictured) finished off a fine move.

Bifouma struck again in the 53rd minute when he converted a penalty awarded when he was fouled by Ogenyi Onazi inside the box.

Gbolahan Salami then gave the home side a glimmer of hope when he reduced the arrears with less than five remaining.

But the Red Devils held on for a famous victory.

Nigeria captain Austin Ejide admitted they lost to a better side.

"They dominated and deservedly won. We underrated them and paid dearly. They were more aggressive and played like the home side here. A poor performance on our part."

As for Congo's Thievy Bifouma, who netted two goals for his country, he was proud of their performance.

"We worked hard. We knew we were facing a big side in Africa and we played our own game and we are proud of ourselves. We need to focus on Sudan on Wednesday now."

Elsewhere, there were cheers and boos in equal measure in Kumasi as Ghana drew 1-1 with Uganda.

The Black Stars are suffering an intense public backlash as the fallout from their 2014 World Cup shambles continues.

The Baba Yara stadium was virtually empty as angry fans stayed away in their thousands.

Tony Mawejje netted for the Cranes in the first half before Andre Ayew equalised for the Black Stars just after half-time from the penalty spot.

The home side may have stolen a point but their performance will have done nothing to appease their disgruntled supporters.

Cameroon made a perfect start to life without their retired talisman Samuel Eto'o with a workmanlike 2-0 victory over an out-of-sorts DR Congo side in Lubumbashi on Saturday.

Clinton N'Jie (pictured), the France-based striker, opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time before Vincent Aboubakar, who plays for Porto in Portugal, doubled the advantage with eight minutes remaining.

Clinton N'Jie
Clinton N'Jie

Despite winning back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations titles in 2000 and 2002, the indomitable Lions have failed to qualify for the past two tournaments.

Sterner tests lie ahead, with Ivory Coast also in this group, but after a rotten World Cup campaign, this win will give Volke Finke's team plenty of confidence.

The Congolese are looking to secure a second straight appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations after crashing out of the group stage in South Africa in 2013.

But they were severely handicapped after 21 minutes when captain Youssouf Mulumbu was taken off with a hamstring injury.

Frenchman Christian Guorcuff marked his first competitive game in charge of Algeria with a 2-1 win over Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

Guorcuff took over from Vahid Halilhodzic, the man who led the Desert Foxes to the knock-out stages of the World Cup, and must have been pleased with what he saw on the pitch.

Hillel Soudani and Yasin Brahimi struck either side of half-time to ruin Portuguese coach Mariano Barreto's first competitive as Ethiopia's head coach.

Saladin Said gave the local fans something to shout about when he reduced the deficit from the penalty spot deep in stoppage time.

The Walya Antelopes started brightly and threatened to score on at least two occasions in the opening 10 minutes.

But once the North Africans found their rhythm, the home side struggled to cope.

Ivory Coast defeated Sierra Leone 2-1 in Abidjan. Kei Kamara had put Sierra Leone ahead with Seydou Doumbia and Gervinho sealing the win for The Elephants.

Zambia and Mozambique drew 0-0 in a southern African derby at the Levy Mwanawasa stadium in Ndola.

The Mambas went into the match with the weight of history on their shoulders - in 13 previous clashes against Chipolopolo, they had lost 11 times and drawn the other two.

In Tunis, Yacine Chikaoui scored a late penalty to give Tunisia a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Botswana

Cape Verde produced an impressive display to beat Niger 3-1 in Niamey. Spain-based midfielder Garry pounced after just three minutes to give new Blue Sharks coach Luis Aguas a dream start.

Odair Fortes doubled the advantage 11 minutes later before Ze Luis added a third in the 24th minute. Veteran Niger striker Moussa Maazou pulled one back for the hosts after 34 minutes.

Cape Verde lead Group F with three points, two ahead of second placed Zambia who they meet on Wednesday in Praia.

The match between Mali and Malawi in Bamako has been postponed until Sunday because of heavy rain.

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