Congo and Niger played out a goalless draw, as both sides missed several scoring chances in their TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) clash in Oran on Friday.
The Red Devils had the best chance of an uneventful first half as Mahamadou Djibo made a good low save from Borel Tomandzoto’s crisp strike at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium.
The Menas just about shaded the second half, as Faysal Abdoulaye and Bilyamine Moussa forced saves from Pavelh Ndzila and Abdoul Aziz Ibrahim skied an effort over the bar when well placed.
Striker Deo Bassinga thought he had won it for Congo in the final moments but his curled effort from the edge of the box that beat goalkeeper Djibo was ruled out by the VAR and the game ended goalless.
The draw sees the Congo exit the competition after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Cameroon in their opening game in the three-team Group E.
It was an end to end contest in the opening quarter of the game as both Congo and Niger searched hard in the attacking third.
The first chance of the game fell to Elenga Kanga, who could not direct his efforts past shot-stopper Djibo of Niger.
Bassinga was lively upfront and formed a good partnership with Prince Soussou Ilendo and Kanga that caused some anxious moments for the Menas who had to be tough to quell their attacks.
The Red Devils also had to be vigilant at the back to stop Niger’s swift counter-attacks which resulted in Junior Ngoma getting booked in his attempt to stop the speedy star Abdoul Arzakou as he surged towards the Congolese goal area.
Djibo was the most active of the two goalkeepers as he made a couple of saves to deny Soussou Ilendo before the half hour mark.
Congo looked more of a threat in closing parts of the first-half with right back Janard Mbemba racing forward beautifully before firing just inches above the crossbar.
Elenga then forced a great save from Djibo before Soussou went down in the box, appealing for a penalty, which was ignored.
The Red Devils looked sharper after the break, with Bassinga and Elenga combining beautifully to set up Thomandzoto, whose shot was comfortably dealt with by Djibo.
The Menas were pecked back but their counter attacking move on 52nd minutes almost paid off as Bilyamine Moussa’s inswinger met the head of Imarana Baro but the latter failed to direct it on target.
Bassinga thought he had put Congo ahead at the 78 minute, but his fine finish was flagged offside and an incident that needed the VAR intervention confirmed the decision which summed up the day.
The result means Congo are out of the competition as only one team from their three-team group will qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.
Niger and Cameroon will battle for a ticket for the quarter-finals when they clash on Monday at the same venue in Oran.