Niger have claimed their first ever point at the Africa Cup of Nations thanks to a 0-0 draw with DR Congo in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
The result leaves Niger at the bottom of Group B on one point, while Congo’s second draw of the tournament leaves them third in the group, two points behind leaders Ghana, who defeated Mali 1-0 earlier on Thursday.
Both teams were meeting each other for the first time in their history.
The first chance of the game fell to Niger just five minutes in when Modibo Sidibe was set up on the right side of Congo area, but his effort flew wide.
Anderlecht’s Dieumerci Mbokani was at the head of the Congo attack, but the Niger rearguard worked well to keep him out.
In the 12th minute, Mbokani surged into the Niger box after perfectly controlling a ball with the chest, but floated his effort into the gloves of Daouda Kassali, missing a good chance to put his side ahead.
The West Africans were putting up a terrific fight against the Congolese – a sharp contrast to their showing against Mali on Sunday – but kept failing to deliver a convincing finish.
Some nice interplay between Congo duo Lomana Lualua and Mbokani near the box could have beaten Kassali at the post but a last-ditch interception by Issiaka Koudize thwarted the beautiful move.
With scores still level at half-time, Niger returned from the break in a combative mood, with captain Moussa Maazou finding himself in the Congo box a couple of times, forcing two breathtaking saves from Muteba Kidiaba, and hitting his third close-range effort over the bar.
Kilitcho Kasusula saved Congo late on when he stopped Maazou’s lightning penetration into the box, as the intensity began to come out the game.
Niger’s Boubacar Talatou laid off a nice ball for Issoufou Dante, who fired towards Kadiaba, but the veteran ‘keeper palmed away to avoid a late goal.
And neither side could break the deadlock, as Niger claimed an historic point.