Defending champion Nigeria slipped deep into trouble in qualifying for the African Cup of Nations with a 1-0 loss in Sudan to stay winless halfway through the competition.

Bakri Almadina's goal just before halftime in Khartoum left Nigeria bottom of Group A with a point from three games and out of the qualifying places for the continental championship early next year.

With Nigeria struggling, South Africa leads Group A after a 2-0 win in Republic of Congo. Cameroon and Ivory Coast are on course to qualify, Algeria has three wins from three and Ghana also leads its group.

The top two teams from each of the seven groups of four qualify automatically for the Cup of Nations. The best third place finisher will seize the last of the 16 places.

Algeria won 2-0 in Malawi and Mali matched that result in Ethiopia to keep the Algerians and Malians in the qualifying places from Group B. In Group C, Gabon jumped above Burkina Faso, the losing finalist at the last Cup of Nations, after a double from Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang delivered a 2-0 home win over the Burkinabes.

Cameroon was held to a 0-0 draw by Sierra Leone. The draw put Cameroon a point ahead of Ivory Coast in Group D despite the Ivorians' 2-1 win in Congo. 

Ghana tops Group E after Asamoah Gyan scored in a fighting 1-1 draw against Guinea in neutral Morocco.

Egypt won 2-0 in Botswana for its first victory in the final qualifying competition but is still four points behind Senegal and Tunisia in Group G with three games to go.

Source: AP