Africa Cup of Nations 2013: History for Niger as DR Congo are held
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Claude Le Roy's DR Congo must win final game to make the quarter-finals in South Africa
Niger picked up their first-ever point at the Africa Cup of Nations and blew Group B wide open as they stubbornly held on to draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Mena are yet to win a game at the finals from five attempts after both sides drew a blank in Port Elizabeth in the first-ever meeting of the two nations.
West Bromwich Albion’s Youssouf Mulumbu played in Dieumerci Mbokani early on, who set up ex-Newcastle forward Lomana LuaLua to blaze high and wide.
Niger almost shocked the Leopards four minutes in, as Modibo Sidibe raced clear but watched his effort bounce back off the upright.
Turkish-based striker LuaLua – once of Portsmouth – then failed to test Kassaly Daouda in the Niger goal, miscuing his attempted volley.
Daouda got down superbly to deny DR Congo’s Belgian player of the year Mbokani, as the prolific Anderlecht frontman could not add to his tally at this year’s finals.
When Gernot Rohr’s Mena did break forwards, they struggled to retain possession and carve out chances, unable to test charismatic goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.
LuaLua saw an effort blocked and Mulumbu side footed wide for the Congolese before Niger captain Moussa Maazou went into the book for a rash tackle on Cedric Makiadi.
On the verge of half-time, Kassaly point-blankly denied Mbokani for a second time as the Leopards struggled to break the deadlock.
Deo Kanda replaced LuaLua at half-time as the Leopards went in search of a goal but it was Niger creating the chances, with Maazou twice testing Kidiaba.
The Congolese struggled to break through the Mena back-line, and failed to test Kassaly, with the Leopard’s forwards evidently frustrated as the game wore on.
Kidiaba denied Boubacar Talatou late on as Niger almost recorded an historic first win in the tournament but had to settle for a point.
Claude Le Roy’s side head into their final group B clash with Mali needing a win to overtake their opponents, while a win against Ghana may still not be enough for Niger to progress.