BAFANA Bafana knocked out Africa Cup of Nations champions Nigeria out of the competition to be held in Equatorial Guinea next year following a 2-2 draw in Uyo.
Tokelo Rantie scored a memorable brace but his sensational strikes were cancelled out by Aluko whose second goal came deep inside injury time. However, the Nigerian effort came too little too late as the draw was not good enough for the home side as Congo Brazzaville claimed a win in Khartoum to finish second to Bafana Bafana.
The visitors, who didn’t lose a single game in the qualifying matches, ended the match one man short after Reneilwe Letsholonyane was shown the red card following two bookable offences.
Bafana Bafana made a bright start earning the first corner in the 3rd minute after some exciting interchange play but the corner came to nothing.
Moments later poor defending by Nigeria presented Rantie with a good opportunity to open the account but the busy striker blasted over the bar from a good position.
Bafana continued to press forward and a good cross by Kermit Erasmus was desperately cleared by the Super Eagles defence.
Ahmed Musa then hit the hood work after captain Dean Furman had lost the ball in the middle of the park, in probably the best chance of the opening minutes.
South Africa quickly replied with the second corner of the day as the match swung from one end to the other.
In the 17th minute Musa again was denied by Darren Keet before the big keeper again foiled the same player moments later.
There was some panic in the Bafana Bafana camp when Keet went on the ground but the imposing keeper shrugged off the injury scare.
Bafana Bafana then took the lead in the 43rd minute when Rantie made a good run on the left before finishing with great aplomb to make it 1-0 and silence the vociferous home side supporters. This was Rantie’s sixth goal in his 26th appearance.
As expected, the home side came back from the break looking for the equaliser but the resolute Bafana Bafana defence looked unyielding.
Pouring many men upfront, Nigeria were caught on the break when Rantie made it 2-0 with another good run and a good finish only two minutes into the second half.
Eric Matoho continued to smother all dangerous balls that fell into the box and Keet in imperious form kept him good company.
In the 67th minute, Nigeria pulled one back through Aluko, setting the scene for a frantic finish.
In the 70th minute, Letsholonyane was shown the red card following two bookable offences meaning Bafana Bafana played the last 20 minute with 10 men.
John Obi Mikel then fired a shot in the 85th minute but Keet smothered the danger before Ike Uche fired powerfully straight at Keet.
Aluko got his second goal in the dying minutes but it was too little too late as the Super Eagles bombed out of the tournament they won last year.
Rantie could have completed a hat-trick at the stroke of full-time but the Nigeria goalkeeper saved the blushes.