Nigeria beat Bafana Bafana 3-1 in their African Nations Championship match, as South Africa were eliminated from the competition, in their final group A clash in Cape Town on Sunday.
Christantus Ejike opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, before Ifeanyi Ede scored the second — from the penalty spot — eight minutes later, sending the visitors into the half-time break with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Ejike then completed his brace on 64 minutes, shortly before Bafana managed to reduce the deficit to two, as Bernard Parker scored his fourth of the tournament.
“We’ve got no excuses. We’ve got to look at ourselves and say that we weren’t good enough,” Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said after the game.
The result ensured Nigeria finished second in the group, after the Malians beat Mozambique 2-1 in the other game in the group, keeping them top of the pile.
Igesund made four changes from his team that drew 1-1 with Mali earlier in the week, most notably, Itumeleng Khune, who was ruled out due to injury and was replaced in goal by Moeneeb Josephs.
Igesund said he had no concerns about the security of his job as national coach.
“What went wrong? We were beaten by the better team,” Igesund added.
“We would have liked to have gone further. I had no mandate for this competition. We’ve played 28 games, we’ve won 14, lost seven and drawn seven. I just have to continue from where I am. I have a contract until June. I’m at peace with where I am.”
At the start of the encounter, South Africa looked lively in the middle of the field and chances opened up for Matthew Pattison and Thabo Nthethe, who rose above the Nigerian defence on 20 minutes and headed a powerful attempt at goal, but was thwarted by Agbim, who made another simple stop.
Against the run of play, however, Nigeria broke the deadlock through Ejike, who powered home a cross from Ifeanyi Ede, handing the Nigerians the vital lead midway through the opening half.
A further blow lay ahead for the hosts on the half-hour mark, when Josephs’ handling error led to him bringing down Fuad Salami in the area, leaving referee Mohamed Benouza no choice but to award a penalty.
Ede stepped up and dispatched the penalty to make it 2-0.
South Africa had lost momentum and looked uninspired in front of goal, as early substitution Katlego Mashego pushed his attempt wide of the mark, in what looked Bafana’s best chance since conceding.
Once again, when South Africa looked dangerous in attack, Nigeria hit with deadly accuracy when given the opportunity, as Ejike thundered home his second of the evening.
Ejike made an intelligent run into the area, laid off to Salami, who played it straight back, leaving Ejike in a dangerous position to steer home the Super Eagles’ third.
Having reached boiling point, tempers flared and on 80 minutes, Bafana were awarded a penalty of their own, after Mashego was brought down in the area.
Parker stepped up and scored his third successive spot kick to pull one back.
It proved to be a consolation goal for Bafana, as Mali’s result left the South Africans out at sea and out of the tournament.