The African qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off on Wednesday with six matches being played of the second round of the campaign, to represent the continent in Qatar next year.
The continent’s top-ranked team, Senegal, went top of Group H with a 2-0 win against Togo at the Stade Lat Dior in Thiès. Second half goals from Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and PSG defender Abou Diallo gave the Lions of Teranga a winning start to the qualifying campaign.
Vetunuavi Hambira scored a goal at both ends as Namibia drew 1-1 with Republic of Congo to leave the teams joint second behind Senegal with Togo bottom.
In Cairo, a penalty by Mohamed ‘Afsha’ Magdy in the first five minutes earned Egypt a narrow 1-0 win against Angola in Group F. The Pharaohs, however, lie in second place in the group behind Libya who came from behind to edge Gabon 2-1.
Andre Poko opened the score for Gabon in the 11th minute before veteran defender Ali Salama leveled for Libya shortly before the half hour mark. With the game seemingly headed for a draw, Sanad Al Warfali then popped up deep in extra time in the second half to score the winner and send Libya top of the table.
Elsewhere, Adama Traore’s solitary first-half strike gave Mali a 1-0 win against Rwanda in their Group E clash in Agadir. Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo had missed a spot-kick just before Traore struck with Rwanda goalkeeper Emery Mvuyekure saving his effort.
The group’s other game on Thursday saw Kenya and Uganda draw 0-0 at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi. Mali now lead the group with three points followed by the three East African nations, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda respectively.
In Group I, Joseph Mendes’ goal six minutes into the second half cancelled out Francois Kamano’s early strike as Guinea Bissau claimed a 1-1 draw against Guinea on Wednesday.
The day’s other game in Group C saw Cape Verde also draw 1-1 with Central African Republic with Julio Tavares and Tresor Toropite scoring respectively.
Benin leads the way in Group J following a 1-0 win against Madagascar thanks to Steve Mounie’s first half goal.
Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo are joint second in Group J after they also drew 1-1 on Thursday. Veteran striker Dieumerci Mbokani broke the deadlock for the Congolese side midway though the first half only for Simon Msuva to equalize nine minutes before halftime.
Lassina Traore netted a penalty and substitute Mohamed Konate added another goal as Burkina Faso defeated Niger 2-0 to go top of Group A ahead of the meeting between African champions Algeria and Djibouti.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)