Hosts Niger beat Bafana Bafana 2-1 in their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the General Seyni Koutche Stadium in Niamey on Sunday.
Niger scored a goal in either half to open up a two goal lead and Andile Jali netted a goal heading into the last quarter of the game to give Bafana hope of a draw.
Ultimately, Niger was able to hold out for the win and sent the visitors home without a point.
With the victory, Niger move into top position in the group with 9 points and Bafana are one point behind in second.
With the final round of qualifier games left to play for next year’s tournament set for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, Bafana play the Leone Stars next month while Niger are away to Egypt.
With Sierra Leone having defeated Egypt 2-1 in Freetown the day before, the pressure was on Bafana to claim full points and maintain their lead in the group.
The visitors started the match on the back foot missing top striker Katlego Mphela who, after a late fitness test taken before the match on his left knee he hurt midweek, was deemed unfit to play.
Coach Pitso Mosimane opted to start with Bernard Parker as the lone man upfront with Thulani Serero as his shadow partner while “Jingles” beefed up his midfield with Jali and Thanduyise Khuboni.
The home side scored the opener from a corner as Dankwa E Kofi headed home to make it 1-0 to Niger early in the first half.
In hot conditions of 35 degrees celsius, by half time, Niger had most of the possession with Bafana struggling to get going.
Niger started the second half right where they left off and doubled their lead in the first minute after the break. Ouwa Moussa Maazou scored from close range after some poor defending by Bafana.
Nearing the 70 minute mark, Jali pulled one back for Bafana with a well taken effort that gave the goalkeeper no chance.
Bafana were unable to forge a second goal and will have to regroup for the match against Sierra Leone who are tie with the South Africans on eight points after five games. — Sapa