Niger picked up their first ever point in the African Nations Cup when their Group B clash with DR Congo finished goalless in Port Elizabeth.
Gernot Rohr's side lost all three games on their tournament debut last season and went down to Mali in their opener this year, but they more than held their own against DR Congo, who were clear favourites coming into the match. They could have taken all three points but they failed to take advantage of a three on two situation in injury time.
The result leaves DR Congo third and Niger fourth, with qualification now down to the final matches against Mali and Ghana respectively on Monday.
Niger almost took the lead in the fourth minute when Modibo Sidibe pounced on careless defending and found himself unmarked on the left of the area. Robert Kidiaba spread himself but Sidibe's attempt to pass the ball across the goalkeeper and into the bottom left-hand corner resulted in the ball coming back off the post.
Daouda denies Congo
Congo responded with Lomano LuaLua mishitting a shot wide when well placed. They came close to going ahead in the 13th minute when Mulota Kabangu's cross found Tresor Mputu as Niger pushed up. He controlled the ball with a mixture of chest and head before unleashing a firm, low shot which Kassaly Daouda did well to tip round the post.
Youssouf Mulumbu spurned a great chance in the 35th minute when LuaLua's blocked shot broke for him unmarked in the area, but he fired wide despite having plenty of time and space. Striker Dieumerci Mbokani thought he had put Congo ahead four minutes before the break when he was clean through but Daouda pulled off a great save.
Maazou's sharp shot was uncertainly parried by Kidiaba after the re-start and the Tunisia-based striker then forced the keeper into a diving save from a header despite being outnumbered by Congo defenders.
The game was evenly balanced but there were few clear-cut openings in the second half. Niger almost scored in the fourth minute of injury time when they found themselves in a three on two situation. Alhassane Dante's 20-yard shot was parried by the keeper, who then intercepted Maazou's lofted cross and the final opening was gone.