African champ Nigeria beats South Africa 2-0AP , Associated Press
Aug. 14, 2013 5:40 PM ET
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Striker Uche Nwafor came off the bench to score a second-half double and lead African champion Nigeria to a 2-0 win over South Africa in their friendly on Wednesday.
Nwafor hit a clever backheel past goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune in the 49th minute and then slotted in from in front after a pinpoint pullback by fellow substitute Ahmed Musa in the 68th that left Khune stranded out of position.
Nigeria's victory at Moses Mabhida Stadium came on its return to South Africa, where it won the African Cup of Nations in February for its third continental title.
A superior Nigeria edged the first half but didn't breach South Africa's defense until coach Stephen Keshi introduced Europe-based forwards Nwafor and Musa and Chelsea striker Victor Moses after the break.
"I'm not very satisfied with what we did today because we can do much better," said Keshi, who will have used the friendly to prepare for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Malawi next month. "We're building a team and bringing everybody back gradually. We're getting the confidence level and getting everybody ready for the game against Malawi."
Nigeria's John Ogu hit the post in the first half. Nwafor of Dutch club VVV-Venlo then put Nigeria ahead when he readjusted his run and cheekily scored with his back to goal minutes after being introduced. Moses and CSKA Moscow's Musa combined to set him up for a tap-in for his second.
"In the second half we dominated the game, grabbed two goals, so we're delighted with it," Moses said.
Nigeria was without Chelsea's John Obi Mikel, who withdrew from the squad after picking up a stomach illness.
South Africa had chances to score in both halves, with the host's best opportunity 15 minutes from time when Lerato Chabangu shot just over. South Africa also was without one of its European-based players after defender Anele Ngcongca was withdrawn by his Belgian club Ghenk because of an injury. Unhappy with Genk not allowing Ngcongca to travel, South Africa coach Gordon Igesund said he would take up the matter with FIFA.
Nigeria's victory saw it win South Africa's annual Nelson Mandela Challenge, but the FIFA ranking points on offer in this week's two rounds of friendlies could be crucial for some of Africa's World Cup hopefuls as the five highest-ranked teams that make it through to the 10-team final qualifying playoffs will be seeded.
Both Nigeria and South Africa are still in contention for those playoffs for Brazil 2014 ahead of the final round of qualifying group games in September.