JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nigeria secured a place at the 2019 African Nations Cup finals with a deserved 1-1 draw with hosts South Africa in their Group E qualifier at Soccer City on Saturday.
Buhle Mkhwanazi put the ball into his own net to give Nigeria the lead after nine minutes, but South Africa equalised through their Strasbourg forward Lebo Mothiba in the 26th.
Nigeria have 10 points from five games at the top of the group, with South Africa in second on nine points, two ahead of Libya with one round to go.
The South Africans must now go to North Africa in March to face the Libyans and avoid defeat to seal a place at the Nations Cup finals in Cameroon next June-July.
Libya defeated Seychelles 8-1 in the other match in the pool earlier on Saturday.
Nigeria had by far the better opportunities against South Africa and were also unlucky with two offside calls against captain Ahmed Musa that saw efforts disallowed.
They took the lead when Samuel Kalu’s cross was turned past his own goalkeeper by Mkhwanazi but the hosts levelled when excellent play by Belgium-based forward Percy Tau set up Mothiba for a simple tap-in, his fourth goal in five internationals.
Nigeria defender Kenneth Omeruo had an excellent chance to grab a win for the visitors with a header at the back post, but he put his effort wide of a gaping goal.
Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Ken Ferris