CAPE TOWN – Former winners Cameroon and Nigeria advanced to the final round of African Nations Cup qualifying on Saturday but both were unconvincing as they laboured against lowly opposition.
Cameroon beat Guinea Bissau 1-0 with a late goal in Yaounde for a 2-0 aggregate win over a side more than 100 places below them in the FIFA rankings.
In Calabar, Nigeria beat 119th-ranked Rwanda 2-0, following a 0-0 draw in the first leg, though they endured some anxious moments before moving through.
They were joined in the next stage of qualifying by the Cape Verde Islands, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Benjamin Moukandjo scored an 81st-minute winner for Cameroon, who continue to struggle in front of goal in the absence of Samuel Eto’o.
The Cameroon captain is serving a suspension imposed by his own federation for leading a players’ strike last year.
Nigeria scored early through Ike Uche and Ahmed Musa doubled the lead just before the hour mark. Rwanda rattled the Nigerian crossbar in a late rally.
Uganda had the biggest success of the day, with a 4-0 home win over Congo in Kampala overturning a 3-1 first-leg deficit.
Sierra Leone beat Sao Tome and Principe 4-2 to go through 5-4 on aggregate, while Liberia held out for a goalless draw in Namibia to go through 1-0 on aggregate.
Christopher-John Banda scored for a second successive week as Malawi beat Chad 2-0 in Blantyre after losing 3-2 in the first leg.
The Cape Verde Islands won 3-1 at home to Madagascar to complete a 7-1 aggregate triumph.
Saturday’s aggregate winners now play in the final round of two-legged ties later this year to determine the qualifiers for the 2013 finals in South Africa.
There are seven more first-round, second-leg qualifiers on Sunday.