Nigeria were the major casualty as Africa completed the group phase of the Nations Cup qualifiers in just three months.
Nigeria paid the price for months of post-World Cup boardroom intrigue and the uncertainty surrounding the extended tenure of coach Stephen Keshi, who has been working without a contract since reaching the second round in Brazil; a power struggle over the running the Nigeria Football Federation effectively sabotaged their qualifying campaign.
Finishing third in Group A, with just two wins, Nigeria will be unable to defend their crown in Equatorial Guinea.
Nigeria were still in with a chance going into their final game, needing a home triumph over South Africa to go through.
However, a 2-2 draw combined with a 1-0 win for Congo away to Sudan, means Nigeria finished third and out of the top-two qualifying places.
Meanwhile, one of the continent’s heavyweights, Ivory Coast, limped into the finals after gaining the point they needed in a goalless home draw with 10-man Cameroon. The match culminated in a pitch invasion involving hundreds of fans.
By Mark Gleeson
* You can read Mark’s full round-up of the final set of Nations Cup qualifiers in the December 2014 issue of World Soccer.