The Desert Foxes of Algeria and Cape Verde became the first nations to join hosts Morocco at the 2015 AFCON finals after their 3-0 and 1-0 win over Malawi and Mozambique respectively gave them an unassailable lead while former champions Zambia and Nigeria got their maiden campaign victories.
The Cranes however lost in Togo which leaves them in a tricky situation in case they are to qualify for the finals.
Kawowo Sports’ Ismael Kiyonga reviews all the games played across the seven groups.
Group A: Nigeria 3-1 Sudan, South Africa 0-0 Congo Brazzaville
Defending champions Nigeria won their first game of the campaign edging Sudan 3-1 in Lagos.
Ahmed Musa hit a brace while Aaron Samuel Olanare scored the other while Ibrahim Salah netted Sudan’s only goal.
With South Africa and Congo Brazzaville settling for a barren draw, Nigeria now lies 3rd 4 points behind log leaders Bafana Bafana while Congo Brazzaville is now second on 7 points.
Group B: Algeria 3-0 Malawi, Mali 2-3 Ethiopia
Algeria became the first nation to qualify for the finals in Morocco thanks to their 3-0 win over Malawi in Algiers.
Yacine Brahimi opened the scoring as early as the 2nd minute before goals from Riyad Mahrez and Slam Sliman put the icing on the cake.
The result earns The Desert Foxes a slot at the finals with 12 points and a perfect record in four games.
In the other group game, Ethiopia revived their fortunes with a 3-2 away victory over Mali in Bamako.
Oumedi Oukri, Getaneh Kebede and Abebaw Butako scored for Ethiopia who earned their first points of the campaign while Bakare Sakho and Mohammad Yattabare scored for the hosts who despite the loss stay in 2nd position with 6 points.
Group C: Burkina Faso 1-1 Gabon, Angola 4-0 Lesotho
Malick Euvoma salvaged a point for visitors Gabon scoring a 70th minute equaliser to cancel out Jonathan Pitroipa’s first half strike that had given Burkina Faso a deserved lead.
The draw leaves Gabon on top of the group with 8 points while Burkina Faso stay second with a point behind.
Angola whose 4-0 win over Lesotho gave them their first win of the campaign go 3rd with 4 points while Lesotho is bottom with 2 points.
Group D: Cameroon 2-0 Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast 3-4 DR Congo
The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon maintained top spot in group D with a 2-0 victory over Sierra Leone in Yaoundé.
Leonard Kweuke and Stephen Mbia scored for the hosts who now sit on the summit with 10 points four ahead of DR Congo and Ivory Coast who are all on six points.
In Abidjan, DR Congo stunned hosts with a 4-3 victory. A double from Solomon Kalou and a goal from Yaya Toure were not enough for The Elephants as a brace from Jeremy Bokila and a goal apiece by Junior Kabananga and Neeskens Kabano ensured the visitors left with maximum points.
Group E: Togo 1-0 Uganda, Ghana 3-1 Guinea
Togo continued their impressive record over Uganda after edging The Cranes 1-0 at Stade de Kegue. Serge Akakpo scored the lone goal in the 70th minute to send Togo second on the log just two points behind leaders Ghana who beat Guinea 3-2 in Tamale.
Captain Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu scored for The Black Stars while Mohammed Yattara netted Guinea’s consolation.
Uganda must now beat Ghana at home and Guinea away to qualify in case Togo wins against Guinea.
Group F: Zambia 3-0 Niger, Cape Verde 1-0 Mozambique
Rainford Kalaba, Emmanuel Mayuka and goalie Kennedy Mweene scored a goal each to give Zambia a 3-0 win over minnows Niger in Ndola.
The maximum points; their first of the campaign lift them to second place same points as 3rd placed Mozambique who lost 1-0 to Cape Verde away from home.
Cape Verde automatically qualifies as whatever results from the remaining fixtures won’t put them below 2nd place at worst.
Group G: Tunisia 1-0 Senegal, Egypt 2-0 Botswana
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia went top of group E after Ferjan Sassi’s late winner sunk Senegal in Tunis.
Tunisia now leads the group on 10 points while Senegal is 3 points behind in second.
Egypt continued their revival with a 2-0 victory over Botswana in Cairo which puts them 3rd with 6 points.