Johannesburg: Libya suffered a setback to their hopes of playing at the World Cup for the first time when they were held 0-0 by the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday.
Playing their first competitive home match in Tripoli since 2010, the Mediterranean Knights wasted an early chance when captain Ahmad Osman had a penalty saved.
A drive from substitute Mohammad Al Gadi with 10 minutes left finished just off target in a Group I qualifier that produced few scoring chances at the national stadium.
Libya had been unable to stage home games in the country because of a tense security situation following the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The police and army manned checkpoints around the 60,000-seat match venue, using weapon-detecting equipment, and the game passed without incident.
A game between the countries in Kinshasa three months ago also ended goalless, and the Tripoli result was a massive disappointment to Libyan supporters.
They remain second in the table, level on six points and plus-one goal difference with Cameroon, but behind the Indomitable Lions because they have scored fewer goals.
Cameroon, whose six World Cup appearances is a record for an African country, are away to Togo on Sunday and a win would move them three points clear.
But they will miss four-time African Footballer of the Year and striker Samuel Eto’o, who was injured playing for Anzhi Makhachkala last weekend in the Russian Cup final.
Captain and striker Asamoah Gyan bagged a brace as 10-man Ghana defeated Sudan 3-1 in Omdurman to replace Zambia as Group D pacesetters.
Al Ain star Gyan was yellow carded and scored in the early stages, but two-time World Cup qualifiers Ghana suffered a double blow on the half-hour mark.
Richard Kissi Boateng was sent off for fouling Mudathir Al Tayeb, who slotted the resulting penalty past Fatawu Dauda to equalise in a steamy Al Merreikh Stadium.
But the numerical disadvantage had little effect on the Black Stars during the second half as Gyan netted again and Sulley Muntari claimed a late third goal.
Ghana have nine points from four matches, two more than 2012 African champions Zambia, who will regain first place if they defeat minnows Lesotho on Saturday in Ndola.
Sudan are bottom with one point from a possible 12 after forfeiting a home win over Zambia last June because they fielded an ineligible player, and they lost an appeal against the Fifa decision.
Only group winners qualify for the final elimination stage in Africa, with the 10 survivors playing a home-and-away tie for a ticket to Brazil.