Ghana's ambition to qualify to their fourth consecutive Fifa World Cup was dealt a huge blow by Congo after both teams shared the spoils 1-1 at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Friday.
Thomas Teye Partey's late equaliser saved the Black Stars blushes after going down very early in the first half.
Kwesi Appiah made four changes to the starting XI that thrashed Ethiopia in the Afcon qualifiers in June. Jeffrey Schlupp, Attamah Laweh and Jonathan Mensah replaced Lumor, Harrison Afful and John Boye respectively, while Jordan Ayew partnered Asamoah Gyan upfront after Rafael Dwamena was ruled out following his failed medical at Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Black Stars were on top of the proceedings in the early embers of the game and Andrew Ayew played through his brother on the third minute but the latter was blocked.
Two minutes later, Ghana were left off the hook after a miscommunication between Daniel Amartey and goalkeeper Richard Ofori but the Maritzburg United shot-stopper recovered on time to save the situation.
Jordan almost equalised for Ghana on 20th minute but his shot was blocked before Partey's long range effort was tipped over the post by goalkeeper Mouko Barel Mosiah as the home supporters began to grow in frustrations.
After the break, Kwesi Appiah brought on Afful for Laweh but Congo still looked dangerous upfront with their counter-attacks. Nguessi Ondama nearly scored another goal for Congo against the run of play after he capitalised on a mistake by Partey but the midfielder's shot went wide.
Atsu came close to equalising by the 53rd minute, after he combined with Ebenezer Ofori but the Newcastle United midfielder saw his cross cleared by the defence of Congo and the visitors almost made it 2-0 on the other side.
Thievy disposed Partey of the ball in the midfield and went pass two players before delivering a decent cross into the box but Ferebory missed the target narrowly.
On the 63rd minute, Ghana made double substitutions as Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew surprisingly made way for Thomas Agyapong and Kwadwo Poku, who was making his first competitive appearance.
The best chance of the game on the part of Ghana fell on to the feet of Jordan Ayew on 70th minute, after Stuttgart midfielder Ofori went past four players and laid a pass to the Swansea striker, but his last ditch effort was very disappointing.
Ghana finally found a breach in Congo's defence on 83rd minute through Atletico Madrid star Partey. Atsu went past his marker and passed the ball to Partey who fired home the equaliser.
Appiah pushed men forward for the winner but Congo were resolute and stood firm to deny the Black Stars a crucial victory. The return game is scheduled for Tuesday.
Ghana currently sit third place with two points, five points behind leaders Uganda with three matches remaining.