Cameroon misses out on another African Cup
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) -- The return of Samuel Eto'o wasn't enough for Cameroon, which missed out on another African Cup of Nations on Sunday as Cape Verde held its nerve to qualify for its first major tournament.
Cameroon won their second-leg game 2-1 at home in Yaounde with striker Eto'o back as captain, but Cape Verde still made history following a surprising 2-0 win in the first leg last month for a 3-2 aggregate victory in the final round of qualifiers.
Four-time winner Cameroon also didn't qualify for the 2012 tournament and will miss successive African championships for the first time in more than 30 years.
"I must congratulate my boys,'' said Cameroon coach Jean-Paul Akono, who took charge for the first time in the second-leg match after the country's stuttering form led authorities to fire Frenchman Denis Lavagne.
"The Lions have played the way they could, unfortunately they lost. But it's important to wish the Cape Verde team good luck,'' Akono added.
Malaga's Fabrice Olinga scored the winner deep into stoppage time for Cameroon, but many of the 55,000 home fans had already left the stadium well before the end of another desperately disappointing campaign by one of the continent's former powerhouses.
Cape Verde took a 12th-minute lead through Antonio Pereira. Achille Emana equalized before Olinga's late goal. But the team, which is nicknamed the Indomitable Lions, was tamed by one of Africa's minnows.
Five government ministers from Cape Verde, led by the Atlantic Ocean nation's sports minister, watched their team's biggest moment as it qualified for its first African Cup and became one of 15 qualifiers for the tournament early next year alongside host South Africa.
Also on Sunday, Ethiopia turned its tie against Sudan on its head with a 2-0 home win to qualify on away goals after a 5-5 aggregate score. Sudan had appeared set for a place at the Cup of Nations after winning the first leg 5-3.
Former Manchester United striker Manucho scored a precious double as Angola beat Zimbabwe 2-0 at home in Luanda and also squeezed through on away goals having lost the first leg 3-1.
Togo beat Gabon 2-1 to win their tie 3-2. Niger surprised Guinea 2-0 at home with goals in the last 20 minutes by Mohamed Chikoto and Boubacar Issoufou to go through 2-1 on aggregate.
Seven teams, including defending champion Zambia, Ivory Coast and Ghana, qualified for the 2013 African Cup on Saturday. The final three places were to be decided later on Sunday.
Eto'o was reinstated as Cameroon skipper by Akono after the Russia-based striker was suspended for eight months and then went into a self-imposed international exile during the troubled reign of Lavagne.
Yet Cape Verde shocked the home fans with Pereira's early free kick, which he swept past Carlos Kameni in the 12th to make it 3-0 on aggregate.
Emana replied 10 minutes later as he forced home the equalizer and Olinga struck four minutes into added time. But disappointed home fans had already headed for the exits as early as 20 minutes before the end.
Troops and riot police with water cannons patrolled the stadium to avoid a repeat of the crowd trouble that occurred in Senegal on Saturday, when fans rioted and forced the abandonment of Senegal's qualifying game against Ivory Coast with the home team trailing and set to be eliminated.
The African Cup of Nations will be held back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 to move it to odd years and avoid it clashing with the World Cup and European Championships.
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