Mauritania shocked South Africa 3-1, Ghana edged Rwanda 1-0 and Nigeria were held 0-0 by Tanzania Saturday in Africa Cup of Nations matchday 2 qualifiers.
A blunder by goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune after five minutes cost South Africa a goal in Nouakchott and set the home team on the road to their greatest Cup of Nations triumph.
Khune allowed a long-range Ali Abeid free-kick to slip from his grasp into the net and Bafana Bafana (The Boys) had debutant Siyabonga Zulu red-carded after half-time for a last-defender foul.
South Africa equalised midway through the second half when Thamsanqa Gabuza soared above goalkeeper Mohamed Salahdine to nod in a cross.
But a Mauritanian team ranked 42 places below their opponents in the world finished strongly and superb individual goals by Boubacar Beyguili and Ahmed Khalil sealed victory.
Success lifted Mauritania from the bottom to the top of Group M on goals scored although Cameroon will regain first place if they do not lose in Gambia Sunday.