Bafana Bafana could have booked their place at the finals in Morocco next year with three points, but as it stands they still top the group and will back themselves to secure passage in their next game, at home to Sudan.
Congo coach Claude Le Roy had made three changes to his side from the one that lost 2-0 in Pointe Noire four days ago, while Shakes Mashaba had one injury-enforced change – Sibusiso Khumalo coming in for Thabo Matlaba.
Bafana started the match slightly better and had a chance in the ninth minute when Tokelo Rantie burst down the right and beat one defender in the box, but his square-ball only found a defender and the moment was lost.
With Bafana’s usual possession and quick passing game missing, Congo slowly made their way back into the game and, 10 minutes before the break, had the best chance of the half.
A corner found it’s way to the unmarked Ndinga, but Senzo Meyiwa did brilliantly to dive down to his left and palm the ball to safety.
Bafana’s struggles continued after the break, and on the hour-mark the home crowd had their hearts in their mouths when Congo had the ball in the back of the net, with a set-piece again undoing the hosts, but the ‘goal’ was rightfully ruled offside.
Mashaba rang the changes as Kermit Erasmus and Oupa Manyisa came on, and immediately the home side started finding some rhythm.
On 77 minutes Bafana came close when the hard-working Rantie burst into the box again. He was tackled, but the ball fell to Mandla Masango, who fired just wide of the upright.
Erasmus fired wide from a lovely move shortly after, and two minutes from time and it was even closer when Manyisa’s backheel allowed Masango space and time to fire home, but the Orlando Pirates midfielder was offside in the build-up.
So honours shared, meaning Bafana remain top on eight points, one ahead of Congo. Nigeria, who beat Sudan 3-1 in an earlier match, are third on four points.