Nigeria suffered a shock defeat to the Republic of Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations soccer qualifiers last weekend.
The reigning African champions fell 3-2 to the visitors, who scored three straight goals after Nigeria took the lead in the 13th minute. It was Nigeria’s first home loss in 33 years.
Nigeria’s captain, Austin Ejide, admitted his team was outplayed.
“They dominated and deservedly won,” he said. “We underrated them and paid dearly. They were more aggressive and played like the home side here. It was a poor performance on our part.”
The Republic of Congo striker Thievy Bifouma, who scored twice, was proud of his team’s performance.
“We worked hard,” he said. “We knew we were facing a big side in Africa and we played our own game. We are proud of ourselves.”
Nigeria is ranked 34th in the world while the Republic of Congo is ranked 78th.
In their first match without retired star Samuel Eto’o, 2000 and 2002 champions Cameroon shut out the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-0.
French-based striker Clinton N’jie and Vincent Aboubakar, who plays for Porto in Portugal, were the goalscorers.
Algeria, Africa’s top-ranked team, beat Ethiopia 2-1, while Ghana was held to a 1-1 draw by Uganda in front of a sparse home crowd.
Cape Verde scored an impressive 3-1 win over Niger in Niamey, Ivory Coast defeated Sierra Leone 2-1, Zambia and Mozambique drew nil all, Burkina Faso shut out Lesotho 2-0 and Mali, without goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa who was shown the red card in the second half, beat Malawi 2-0.
The qualifying competition ends on November 19.
A total of 16 teams, including host country Morocco, will compete in the 30th Africa Cup of Nations tournament from January 17 to February 8.
Meanwhile, Chris Giwa has surrendered his claim to be the Nigerian Soccer Federation president, thus averting an international ban for his country.
The International Soccer Federation, the governing body for the sport in Africa, did not recognize Giwa’s election on August 26 and had set a deadline of last Monday for him to step aside.
Nigeria was banned from global soccer for nine days in July for government interference in the running of the soccer federation when Aminu Maigari was forced out of his post by a court ruling.
Following his reinstatement, he was voted out of office by the Nigerian Soccer Federation’s executive committee a few days later. FIFA did not accept this and Maigari was once again back as president in August.