Nigeria could only hold group leaders South Africa to a 2-2 draw at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium, Uyo and will not defend the title they won last year in South Africa.
The Eagles had a slew of chances in the first half but they were wasted, Ahmed Musa, primarily the guilty party.
Kenneth Omeruo had his worst game in a Super Eagles game and in the fourth minute gifted a South African attacker the freedom of the stadium. However the resultant shot was poor.
Ahmed Musa went on a slalom run in the 8th minute, unleashed a shot that hit the cross bar.
One of the highlights of the game in the early period was the many stray passes by the Nigerian players especially the midfielders and forwards.
The Uyo crowd rose the their feet in the 24th minute when Ikechukwu Uche unleashed a powerful shot from 25 metres.
South Africa scored their first goal from a counter in the 41st minute. Azubuike Egwuekwe’s defending was poor.
The Warri Wolves defender virtually let Tekolo Rantie the room to shot beyond Enyeama from his blind side.
The introduction of Hull City forward Omatsone Aluko, who scored Nigeria’s two goals in the game seemed inspirational and reduced the arrears in the 70th minute, sweeping home from close range after Uche’s shot hit the bar.
The Eagles could be forgiven to think that they won a penalty few seconds after Aluko’s goal as John Mikel Obi is brought down in the box but the referee refuses to give Nigeria a penalty with tension hitting the roof top in Uyo.
Stephen Keshi finally decided to remove the dreadful Omeruo in the 74th minute and brought in hero of the Nigerian victory in Pointe Noire, Aaron Samuel.
Nigeria was again denied what was apparently a penalty with ten minutes left on the clock. The crowd now understandably get agitated as the South Africans resort to time-wasting antics.
At this time, word had gotten to the Nigerian players that Congo were leading 1-0 against Sudan in Khartoum and stepped up their attacks in the South African half.
Their efforts paid off in the third minute of added time as Omatsone Aluko drills home a fantastic shot to bring the score at 2-2 but it was too little, too late to salvage the Super Eagles the needed win.
There were still faint hopes of Nigeria grabbing the ticket as the third-best placed team in the qualification campaign but results elsewhere as at the time of this report meant there is no way back for Keshi and his team.
Nigeria are now dethroned and will not be African champions in 2015.