Sierra Leone forced Sao Tome and Principe to a 2-2 draw in a Group A qualifiers of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations played at the Grand Stade Agadir in Morocco.
The score line has boosted the chances of table-toppers, the Super Eagles who will host Guinea Bissau on Friday.
The 2-2 draw narrows the possibility of Sierra Leone catching up with Nigeria in the Group. It was the first point that Sao Tome and Principe obtained from the group.
Sierra Leone total haule is now two points.
Sierra Leone had to come from behind twice to pick the draw in what was their home match.
“It is a really disappointing result but credit to Sao Tome because they battled hard and made the game difficult for us.
“It is disappointing but it is not over yet. We have the return leg and after that we have two more games to go.
“We showed the Sierra Leonian spirit to keep fighting until the very end. We go again, regroup rest recover and focus on getting a result in the next match,” skipper Steve Caulker said.
His sentiments were echoed by coach John Keister.
“This result is difficult to take in. We got ourselves to blame. We didn’t start very well in the first half and we caused ourselves some problems. In the second half we didn’t take the chances we had and this is the cruel side of football,” said the coach.
Sao Tome were delighted with the result, with Ferreira Soares praising his teammates for their hard work.
“It was a tough game and we knew were playing a tough team with ore experience than us. But, we worked hard and got a good result. Of course we would have loved to win but it was not possible. Now we focus on the next match.”
Sao Tome had picked a shock lead two minutes to the break when Luis Leal connected from an Adjeil da Gloria pass.
Sierra Leone regrouped in the second half and equalized through Mustapha Bundu three minutes after the restart when he reacted quickest to a spilled ball.
But, Sao Tome re-took the lead when Leal completed his brace, running on to a through ball before dinking it over the keeper. He would have grabbed a hattrick minutes later, but his brilliant shot from range was turned behind by the keeper.
Sierra Leone however fought to get back on level terms, Abu Komeh powering home from inside the box off an Alhaji Kamara squared ball.
With back to back draws, Sierra Leone remain third in the standings with two points while Sao Tome are bottom of Group A with their first point of the qualifiers.
Both teams will remain in Agadir for the reversed fixture on Sunday.