Sierra Leone players made use of home advantage to defeat Niger 1-0 in the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on Saturday.
A 50th-minute goal by Ibrahim Bangura gave Sierra Leone all three points and helped them move to within two points of Group G leaders South Africa, who face bottom side Egypt on Sunday.
Niger’s defeat may come as a morale boost for Egypt, who could be in a good position to qualify for the 2012 finals, co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, should they win their remaining three games.
Had Niger defeated Sierra Leone, it would have been difficult for Egypt, who have only bagged one point so far, to even finish as one of the best two runners-up in the 11 groups.
Niger will face South Africa in Johannesburg in the penultimate game next September, while Sierra Leone will host Egypt in the same month.
Sierra Leone remain third in Group G with five points, one behind second-placed Niger.
South Africa are on top with seven points and will edge closer to an automatic place in the biennial tournament if they avoid a defeat against Egypt in Cairo on Sunday.