Football: S Africa saved by Masinga strike

(First Edition) THE underdogs enjoyed a rare moment in the limelight at the weekend in the second round of qualifying matches for the 1996 African Nations Cup finals in Kenya.

Namibia won only their second international match ever, Guinea Bissau earned a first point in Nations Cup competition and Sudan and Togo were among those who pulled off surprise results. There were also indications in the 13 qualifying games played over the weekend that some of the established powers in African football are making a return to form.

Mauritius might have caused one of the weekend's biggest surprises, but eventually conceded a goal to lose 1-0 to South Africa. Phil Masinga, the Leeds United striker, scored in the 51st minute to spare the home country's blushes.

Namibia's 2-1 win over Mali in Windhoek was the biggest upset. The southern African country, playing in the competition for the first time, had won only one of their 13 previous internationals since independence in 1990.

But they dominated against the Malians, semi-finalists at the 1994 African Nations Cup finals in Tunisia, with goals by Sylvester Goraseb and Ruben van Wyk. Mali could only scramble a late consolation goal.

Guinea Bissau lost all six of their group matches in the qualifiers for the 1994 Nations Cup competition, which was the first time the tiny west African country had entered the tournament. But on Friday they won their first point when Manuel Pedro's late goal gave them a 1-1 away draw with Mauritania.

Sudan won a difficult away point against Algeria, former winners of the Nations Cup, while Togo beat Senegal 2-0 in Lome. The Togolese performance was inspired by the Borussia Moenchengladbach striker, Bachirou Salou, recalled to the team for the first time in two years. He scored the second goal after Koffi Fiawoo had put Togo in front.

Cameroon won their first game since the World Cup finals, beating Zaire 1-0 in Douala. The French-based striker Georges Mouyeme scored in the opening minute.

Egypt had the biggest win of the weekend, beating Tanzania 5-1 in Cairo.

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