Striker Habibou Sofiane who headed home the first half winner for Niger was the hero of the night as Tanzania rued the thought of what could have been despite finishing four points with Nigeriens who went through based on the head-to-head rule.
Yet it was Tanzania that actually started on the offensive in Port Gentil but there were no clear-cut chances on both ends until in the 37th minutes when Ibrahim Ali was surprisingly freed on goal but his effort was not enough to break Niger.
Few minutes after, Niger got a free kick and bulky midfielder Habibou Sofiane headed the ball home after he beat off the off-side trap much to the chagrin of the East Africans.
On resumption of play, Tanzania went close again in the 50th minute but Abdul Suleiman shot wide even with goalkeeper Moussa Hima at his mercy and they failed to press the advantage despite their dominance till the very end.
In the semi-final pairings, Niger will meet Ghana in Port Gentil while Mali will meet Guinea in the other semi-final in Libreville. Both matches are to be played on Wednesday.
Total Man of the Match: Habibou Sofiane (Niger)
Mlambo Oscar (Assistant Coach, Tanzania
We had our expectations and it was disappointing for us to lose this last match when we needed a draw to go through; what we have to live with this unfortunate result despite coming close. We went through the same process with the other teams; starting from the qualifiers and so much positives for us to take despite the fact that we came very close to getting to the knockout stages. We have learned so much and I think this would put us in good position to compete well at home when we host the continent in 2019.
Soumaila Tiemogo (Head Coach, Niger)
It is being a very long time and we thank God for reaching the semi-finals as well as the World Cup; the authorities invested in these boys and this has paid off. Our people have so much faith in this team and I'm happy that we did not disappoint them.
It is true that Ghana is a very good team but we are at the same level now by reaching the semi-finals along with them. Fortunately, we played Ghana and lost to them twice in Accra before coming to Gabon; this will guide us well when we meet in the semi-finals.
Habibou Sofiane (Total Man of the Match, Niger)
I’m too happy; I just don’t know what to say; we are all happy to have finally made it.