Madagascar earned their first victory in the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup with a hard earned 1-0 victory over DR Congo on Sunday evening to revive faint hopes of battling for a ticket to the quadrennial showpiece.
Prior to the home tie against Les Leopards, The Barea had lost three successive matches including the first leg against the Congolese in Kinshasa last week. But they ensured they earned some slight hope heading into the final two rounds of qualification matches.
Njiva Rakotoharimalala slotted home the game's most important goal in the first minute, a lead that the hosts jealously guarded till the final whistle.
Group J is still open with Tanzania and Benin staying top with seven points each while Congo are third with five and Madagascar sit at the basement with three.
Meanwhile at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, Equatorial Guinea came from a goal down to score late and hold hosts Zambia to a 1-1 draw, a result that handed them reprieve and an opportunity to progress to the next round.
Federico Bikoro struck for the Equatoguineans with eight minutes of regulation time left, cancelling out Fashion Sakala's earlier goal scored in the 65th minute.
The result leaves Equatorial Guinea with a chance to qualify from Group B. They trail leaders Tunisia by two points though the North Africans who are unbeaten in nine matches can take that gap to five if they beat Mauritania in the late fixture.
Zambia are on four points at third and if Tunisia win against Mauritania, then their hopes will be dashed.
At the same time, Cape Verde moved up to second in Group C with a slim 1-0 victory over Liberia at the Stade Municipal Adérito Sena in Mindelo. Ryan Mendes scored the solitary goal at the stroke of full time to take the Blue Sharks to seven points.
They are just two shy of leaders Nigeria who earlier on beat Central Africa Republic 2-0. Liberia dropped to bottom of the group with just three points but remain mathematically in contention with two rounds left.