Egypt and Libya recorded home wins on Wednesday night in Group F Matchday 1 of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifiers.
The Pharaohs scored early to beat Angola 1-0 in Cairo, while the Mediterranean Knights needed a stoppage-time goal to beat Gabon 2-1 in Benghazi.
At the June 30 Stadium in Cairo, Egypt had a penalty kick awarded after four minutes for a foul on Ahmed Aboul Fetouh inside the visitors’ area.
From the penalty kick spot, Mohamed “Afsha” Magdy made no mistake to put the Pharaohs ahead.
In spite of being hot favourites to win, the Pharaohs survived numerous scares from Fabio Abreu and his teammates.
However, goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy stood tall to thwart all Angolan scoring chances.
In the second half, chances were rare for both sides, as Hossam Elbadry’s men cruised to a minimal but vital win at home.
The Pharaohs next stop will be Franceville, where they face Gabon on Sunday.
In the other Group F match, Libya came from behind to secure a home victory in the dying seconds over Patrice Neuveu’s Gabon in Benghazi.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring via Andre Biyogo Poko after 11 minutes.
Just before the half-hour mark, Ali Salama’s header restored parity for the hosts after a corner kick.
After the goal, Libya pushed even harder for victory, but they had to wait until the second half’s dying seconds.
Four minutes into injury time, Sanad EL Warfali took advantage of a counter-attack to give the Mediterranean Knights a precious victory which put them on top of the group.
Libya will head to Luanda to face Angola on Tuesday.
Mali beat Rwanda
The Eagles of Mali started their Group E campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Qualifiers with a 1-0 win over Rwanda at Grand Stade d’Agadir in Morocco on Wednesday evening.
They dominated the game which was moved to Morocco as Mali lacked the approval of a home stadium.
Mohamed Magassouba’s men dominated the game and created the most dangerous chances from the start.
The Eagles had an early chance to take the lead when Moussa Djenepo was fouled inside the Rwandan area after 18 minutes.
From the penalty kick spot, Djenepo tried to score himself but was stopped by Rwanda goalkeeper Emery Mvuyekure.
Mali however took the lead a couple of minutes later, when Adama Traore put the Eagles ahead after 20 minutes.
Rwanda Amavubi tried to find an equaliser but were stopped by Mali’s defence line and goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro.
After the break, Mali were still the side with more chances, but both teams failed to score as the Eagles bagged their first points of the campaign.
Central Africa Republic draw Cape Verde in Douala
Central African Republic (CAR) and Cape Verde played to a 1-1 draw in Douala, Cameroon on Wednesday in their first match of the qualifiers to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Central Africans, who were hosting the game in Douala due to the non-approval of the Bangui Stadium, found a tough encounter in their Group C opener.
They faced a well-organised team in Cape Verde, especially in the middle of the pack.
Their visitors played in an organised and dangerous manner and were rewarded after 36 minutes when Julio Tavares broke the deadlock with a neat finish off a Rocha Santos pass.
This was the fourth goal for Tavares in a Blue Shark jersey.
The islanders were rewarded for a more positive start as they dominated play and looked the most dangerous all through the opening minutes.
Tavares came close on two occasions but was not lucky enough to add his second of the afternoon.
In the second half, however, CAR were more adventurous and they got back on level terms just seven minutes after the restart.
That was when Tresor Toropite found the back of the net with a close-range finish.
The 27-year-old forward boxed himself in a forest of defenders before scoring the equaliser, taking his side back into the game.
The CAR side pushed hard in the remaining minutes to try and steal a victory off the face of defeat but were not lucky enough to get a second goal and seal the game.
They will be away to Liberia in the second round of matches on Monday while Cape Verde host Nigeria on Tuesday.
Senegal beat Togo as Guinea Bissau and Guinea draw
Senegal secured a 2-0 victory over Togo at the Lat Dior Stadium in Thies on Wednesday, in Group H’s opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Sadio Mane and Abdou Diallo scored the two goals for the Teranga Lions as they started their campaign for a ticket to Qatar on a high note.
The Senegalese had a bright start to the match and asked the first questions of the Sparrow Hawks.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Papa Matar Sarr should have done better with a pass off Gana Gueye, but his control let him down with good space in front of him.
Mane and Boulaye Dia were also threatening for the Senegalese, but they could not find the back of the net, as the two teams went to the break tied at 0-0.
Senegal came back with all claws on and they got into the lead in the 56th minute.
Mane, the 2019 CAF African Player of the year, played a quick interchange of passes with Dia before controlling the ball with his left and firing home on his right.
The Senegalese kept their command on the game but they had to wait till the 80th minute to seal the game.
Diallo hit the back of the net with a sumptuous shot on his national team debut.
The Senegalese, finalists at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held on for the win to earn an advantage from matchday one.
Meanwhile, at Nouakchott’s Olympic Stadium in Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Guinea played to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining Group I fixture.
Guinea Bissau’s Djurtus have been forced to play their home matches in Mauritania.
This is because their home turf, the Estadio Nacional 24 de Septembro, is yet to pass the necessary approvals to host international matches.
In Nouakchott, Guinea Bissau found themselves trailing after seven minutes when Francois Kamano broke the deadlock for the Syli Nationale.
But Guinea Bissau gave a fight and just a minute into the second half got back into contention with the equaliser, coming off Joseph Mendes.
Morocco and Sudan will play the group’s other match on Thursday.
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