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Nigeria, Ivory Coast qualify for World Cup finals

Nigeria became the first African nation to qualify for the World Cup finals after beating Ethiopia 2-0 on Saturday. Ivory Coast’s qualification followed that of Nigeria later in the evening with a 4-2 aggregate win against Senegal.

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Nigeria qualified for the World Cup on Saturday, continuing an outstanding year for the team after it won the African title for the first time in nearly a decade.

Nigeria beat surprise package Ethiopia 2-0 in the second leg of their playoff for a 4-1 aggregate victory.

Ivory Coast qualified for a third straight World Cup after surviving a nervous finish to draw 1-1 with Senegal for a 4-2 aggregate win in the African playoffs on Saturday.

Salomon Kalou struck in the fourth minute of injury time to make sure Africa’s top-ranked team went through as Senegal pressed desperately for the goal that would have provided a major shock in the qualifiers.

Source: AP
 

Victor Moses converted a 20th-minute penalty after an Ethiopian handball, and Victor Obinna made certain of Nigeria’s place in Brazil with his goal in the 82nd at UJ Esuene Stadium. It’s the team’s second straight World Cup.

Ethiopia was trying to reach its first World Cup after unexpectedly reaching the playoffs ahead of 2010 host South Africa.

Ethiopia’s Aynalem Hailu was penalized for handball inside 20 minutes for Nigeria’s penalty after the ball bounced up off his chest and hit his arm. Obinna scored from a free kick soon after arriving as a substitute to seal Nigeria’s qualification.

Nigeria took the first of five African places at next year’s tournament.Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast plays Senegal in the decisive leg of their playoff later Saturday in neutral Morocco. Ivory Coast won the first leg 3-1.

In the three remaining African playoffs, Cameroon and Tunisia are level after a 0-0 draw in Tunisia and Burkina Faso leads Algeria 3-2 ahead of their second-leg games on Sunday. Egypt hosts Ghana on Tuesday needing a major upset to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990 after Ghana won the first leg 6-1.

If Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana qualify, Africa will be represented by the same five teams that made it to South Africa’s World Cup.

(AP)

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