Niger earned a historic first point at the African Cup of Nations to keep alive their slim hopes of reaching the last eight with a 0-0 draw against DR Congo in Port Elizabeth.
Niger coach Gernot Rohr had set his heart on leading his side to a first point from this tournament after several fruitless attempts in previous years, but may well wonder how Niger did not take three after enjoying the best moments of the second half.
The final round of fixtures leaves Niger needing to overcome group leaders Ghana on Monday to qualify for the last eight with DR Congo facing Mali chasing three points to book their spot in the quarter-finals.
This match at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium will be remembered as much for the amount of bad challenges that went unpunished by the referee Bouchaib Al Ahrach of Morocco, but a draw was probably a fair outcome.
DR Congo were better in the first half, but Niger recovered strongly in the second period before another smallish gathering.
DR Congo opted to make one change from the 2-2 draw with Ghana in their tournament opener as defender Larrys Mabiala was replaced by Landry Mulemo. Niger stuck with the same side despite losing 1-0 to Mali on Sunday.
The West Africans should have been ahead on three minutes when Modibo Sidibe benefited from some slack play by DR Congo to race in on goal. His shot beat Robert Kidiaba, but came back off a post.
Lomana Lua Lua was wasteful on several occasions in the first period with Youssouf Mulumbu also failing to find the target while Daouda Kassaly was in inspired form in the Niger goal.
Kassaly produced two outstanding stops to prevent Dieumerci Mbokani from netting, one before the break particularly eye-catching as he spread himself when the forward raced in on goal.
The second half saw Niger hit back as their pressing game began to knock DR Congo out of their stride.
Moussa Maazou was very much to the fore for Niger in the second period and forced Kidiaba to hold his header on 60 minutes, but the winning goal would not come despite plenty of huffing and puffing at both ends.
- Sports & Recreation