CAPE TOWN : Nigeria suffered a humiliating home defeat in World Cup qualification on Thursday as the Central African Republic grabbed a last-minute winner for a shock victory in Lagos.
Substitute Karl Namnganda, who plays in the fourth tier of French football, took advantage of a defensive mix-up between William Troost and Leon Balogun to score a stunning winner and throw their qualifying section wide open.
The upset overshadowed the rest of the day’s African qualifiers where there was also a significant win for tiny Equatorial Guinea over Zambia and a third successive victory for Tunisia.
Norwegian-based striker Ibrahima Kone netted a hat-trick for Mali as they thrashed Kenya 5-0 while Benin’s win in Tanzania put them in pole position in their group.
Nigeria had won their opening matches in Group C and were expected to push further ahead at the expense of lowly Central African Republic, who were without their only recognised star Geoffrey Kondogbia of Atletico Madrid, who is refusing to play because of the poor organisation around the team.
Victor Osimhen hit the post early in the second half for Nigeria and fluffed another chance but the Super Eagles were largely subdued in what was expected to be a routine home assignment.
It was the biggest win in the Central African Republic’s football history as they moved to four points.
Nigeria still lead the group on six points but Cape Verde's 2-1 win in Liberia, where Garry Rodrigues rifled home a stoppage-time winner, also puts them on four points.
Tunisia kept up their 100per cent record after three games in Group B as they beat Mauritania 3-0 at home, with second-placed Equatorial Guinea three points back.
Mali shrugged off having to cede home advantage and play in Agadir, Morocco because of the poor condition of their stadia as they hammered Kenya and are two points ahead of Uganda in Group E. Uganda won 1-0 earlier on Thursday away to Rwanda.
In Group J, Benin remain two points clear of the Democratic Republic of Congo as both teams won.
Steve Mounie scored a 71st minute winner for Benin away to Tanzania, while the Congolese were 2-0 home winners over Madagascar in Kinshasa.
There are six more African qualifiers on Friday as teams battle it out in 10 groups, with only the section winners advancing to the playoffs in March to decide the five African representatives at the Qatar 2022 finals.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)