Gabon and Burundi have played to a 0-0 draw in their opening 2014 African Nations Championship Group D encounter at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Tuesday night.
In a fixture that never reached any great heights, it was the Gabonese who had the better of the opportunities and will believe they probably should have come away with all three points.
Burundi looked to tackle them on the counter-attack, but in the latter stages put all 11 behind the ball as they played out what they will feel is a valuable point.
Gabon had veteran striker Daniel Cousin in their line-up, one of the more experienced players in the competition who has played in the top-flights in England and France.
They tried to channel much of their play through him, and it was he who had arguably the game’s best chance late in the first half.
Cousin was put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Burundi stopper Arthur Arakaza did well to close the space between them quickly and made an excellent block.
Franck Engonga also saw his goal-bound header cleared off the line with Arakaza this time beaten, while late on Samson Mbingui had the ball in the back of the net but he was rightfully ruled offside.
That was about as good as it got, with little for the enthusiastic crowd to get excited about as the teams ultimately cancelled each other out.
Congo go top
DR Congo beat 10-man Mauritania 1-0 in a scrappy Group D opener in Polokwane.
The 2009 champions failed to stamp their authority in poor first half that only came to life after the half hour mark.
DR Congo had a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot denied by referee Mohamed Benouza after Cedric Mavuanga’s cross was handled in the box in the 20th minute.
Shortly thereafter, coach Santos Mutubile was sent-off for protesting the decision.
Four minutes later, Mauritania striker Ely Voullany too had a fine chance to put his side in the lead against the run of play but was unfortunate to see his 24th minute shot from the edge of the area fly over the horizontal.
Mauritania then had the post to thank in the 38th minute when DR Congo midfielder Guy Lusadisu thumped the ball onto the woodwork.
The debutants too were unlucky not to have taken the lead with a late chance in the 42nd minute of the first half when Voullany’s shot was cleared off the line by Jean Kasusula.
Relief for DR Congo came in the 49th minute when Mauritania defender Mohamed Wade brought down midfielder Firmin Mubele in the area and Benouza pointed to the spot.
Eddy Emomo then sent Mauritania goalkeeper Brahim Souleymane the wrong way to earn the three points for DR Congo.
However, Mauritania went on to suffer a further setback in the 75th minute when Captain Moussa Baghayoko was sent off for crude two-footed tackle on defender Eric Nkulukuta.
Congo, on three points, now turn their attention to Gabon on January 18 at the same venue.