the Brave Warriors narrowly lost with a first half penalty to Mali on Friday night at Bamako in the race to the Cameroon AFCON Finals next year.
After a cagey opening that saw both sides play with extreme caution, Namibia captain on the night Peter Shalulile had a shout for a penalty on 30 minutes as he raced down the middle, leaving defender Baukacar Kouyate in his wake only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper.
The Niger referee awarded a corner kick instead and it was cleared by Mali.
Mali then got a dubious penalty on 32 minutes after defender Vitapi Ngaruka was adjudged to have committed a foul and Elbilal Toure scored the spot kick to give the hosts the lead.
Shalulile then shot at goal after the goalkeeper failed to collect but the effort was headed out by a defender on 35 minutes.
Towards the end of the first half Dynamo Fredericks had a glancing header saved after some fine work from Deon Hotto down the right.
After the break regular captain Petrus Shitembi and Absalom Iimbondi came on for Fredericks and Alfeus Handura respectively.
In the 63 minuted Larry Horaeb was pushed down in the box and after some indecisiveness from the match officials they decided on giving a free kick to Mali in stead of a penalty to the visitors.
To Namibia's surprise Horaeb was supposed to walk after the second yellow card but the referee somehow missed that.
Bobby Samaria took him off to avoid a red card and a chance for fresh legs with Elmo Kambindu coming on.
Ngaruka redeemed himself with a fine stop on the line and then Riaan Hanamub also cleared off the line with seven minutes left as Mali looked to kill off the game.
Shalulile nearly had the last laugh after putting in another impressive shift, but saw his shot hit the outside of the net in the dying minutes.
In the end, the game finished 1-0 for the hosts and the two nations will have to do it all again on Tuesday at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
Guinea and Mali are on seven points each after three games with Namibia on three points and Chad pointless in Group A of the 2021 Afcon Qualifiers.