Inter star Samuel Eto’o fluffed a late penalty as Cameroon were held 0-0 at home by Senegal and are in danger of missing next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Eto’o banged his 88th-minute penalty against the crossbar, reviving memories of another late missed spot-kick that cost Cameroon a place at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
A point before a capacity 45,000 crowd in Yaounde kept Senegal clear at the top of Group E with 10 points followed by Cameroon (5), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (4) and Mauritius are pointless.
DR Congo were to play in Mauritius yesterday and even a draw would lift them above Cameroon in a competition where only group winners are guaranteed places at the 16-nation African soccer showcase hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Cameroon created most of the clear-cut chances with record four-time African Footballer of the Year Eto’o prominent, while New York-based Senegal goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul made several breathtaking saves.
The turnaround under coach Amara Traore of Senegal, who finished fourth in 2006 then failed to reach the next two tournaments, has been the success story so far of the qualifiers.
The Teranga Lions campaign got off to a perfect start with a Mamadou Niang hat-trick inspiring a shock 4-2 triumph in DR Congo and a 7-0 mauling of Mauritius in Dakar followed.
West Ham striker Demba Ba, an injury absentee in Yaounde, scored a last-gasp winner at home to Cameroon three months ago and another home win when the Congolese visit Dakar in September would clinch first place.
Uganda boosted their chances of returning to the Cup of Nations after a 34-year absence by completing a double over Guinea Bissau with a 2-0 victory before a huge crowd at Namboole Stadium near Kampala.
A Godfrey Walusimbi cross landed in the net two minutes before halftime after Uganda had laid siege to the visitors goalmouth and David Obua set up Geoffrey Massa for the second goal in the 62th minute.
Zambia climbed above Libya to top Group C after a whirlwind start to the second half delivered a 3-0 victory over Mozambique in the northern town of Chingola.
Christopher Katongo struck twice, before recalled veteran striker Collins Mbesuma completed the rout in the 53rd minute and the only disappointment for the home team was the late red card shown to midfielder Isaac Chansa.
Namibia played Burkina Faso under protest, claiming Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue was ineligible to line up for the visitors, who romped to a 4-1 win in Windhoek.
Sierra Leone got back into contention for Group G honors with a 1-0 win over Niger courtesy of an early second-half goal from Ibrahim Bangura in Freetown.
On Fridat in Group I, Ghana downed the Republic of the Congo 3-1 in Accra.