Top Africa World Cup contenders deliver victories
African champions Egypt snatched a late winner to edge the Democratic Republic of Congo 2-1 in their opening World Cup qualifier on a weekend when the top nations delivered victories.
Only Tunisia suffered a surprise reversal, losing at home to Burkina Faso in one of the 22 games played over the weekend.
The other four African representatives in Germany at the 2006 World Cup finals all won, with Ghana looking most impressive in a 3-0 victory over Libya in Kumasi on Sunday
A hat-trick from Esau Kanyenda helped Malawi thump minnow Djibouti 8-1 in Blantyre in the weekend's biggest win while the Seychelles managed their first World Cup point in a goalless draw at Burundi.
Egypt had to come from a goal down at halftime to beat the Congolese in Cairo following their triumph in the African Nations Cup finals in Ghana in February. Amr Zaki and Ahmed Eid Abdelmalik scored the goals. Norwegian-based striker Yssouf Kone came off the bench to grab two late goals as Burkina Faso created the only real shock of the weekend with their 2-1 win in Tunisia.
Sekou Cisse, deputising for the injured Didier Drogba, score the Ivory Coast's only goal in a 1-0 win over Mozambique while Togo won on Saturday in their match against Zambia, which was played on neutral ground in Accra, Ghana.
Angola, also at the last World Cup finals, left it late in beating Benin 3-0 in Luanda with all their goals coming in the last half hour. There were also comfortable wins for Cameroon and Nigeria while Senegal, World Cup quarter-finalists six years ago, laboured to a 1-0 win over Algeria on Saturday.
Nigeria turned in a commanding performance to beat 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa 2-0 in Abuja while perennial campaigners Rigobert Song and Samuel Eto'o grabbed a goal apiece on Saturday as Cameron beat the Cape Verde Islands 2-0 at home. Lesotho failed to arrive for their match against Gabon in Libreville because of flight problems while the match between neighbours Sudan and Chad was postponed by FIFA because of the border tension between the two countries.
The African qualifiers continue over the next three weekends with the 12 group winners and eight best placed runners-up advancing to the second group phase, which starts in November.
By Mark Gleeson