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Oct 14, 2012

Cape Verde qualifies for 1st African Cup

YAOUNDE, Cameroon -- 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.

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