Ghana and defending champions Algeria were among the big winners on the second day of Africa Cup of Nations group stage qualifiers, while embattled Kenya held Egypt in Alexandria.
Les Fennecs, returning to competitive action less than four months after defeating Senegal to win the title in Cairo, trounced Zambia 5-0 in Blida to take command of Group H.
Youcef Belaili, Ramy Bensabaini and Baghdad Bounedjah (two, including a late penalty) were among the goals, while Hillal Soudani marked his return to the fold with a strike of his own as the North African giants delivered a statement of intent.
It was a miserable result for a Chipolopolo side who have turned to Aggrey Chiyangi following the disappointing reign of Sven Vandenbroeck, who frittered away the side’s momentum and failed to qualify for the 2019 Afcon.
In Cape Coast, goals from Thomas Party and Kudus Mohammed were enough to secure all three points for Ghana in their heavyweights clash with South Africa.
Party opened the scoring with a deflected long-range effort in the 35th minute, before debutant Kudus added a second past Ronwen Williams 11 minutes from time.
Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Kenya came from behind to hold Egypt 1-1 after Michael Olunga’s strike cancelled out Mahmoud Kahraba’s opener.
The Harambee Stars weathered the storm after losing goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and winger Ayub Timbe to early injuries, but rallied to secure a strong early competitive start to Francis Kimanzi’s tenure.
The hosts were without Mohamed Salah, who was ruled out after picking up an ankle injury during Liverpool’s Premier League victory over Manchester City at the weekend.
In Bamako, Mali and Guinea drew 2-2, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon played out a goalless draw in their Group D opener.
Mozambique defeated Rwanda 2-0 in Group F, while Comoros secured a shock victory over Claude Le Roy’s Togo as they triumphed 1-0 in Lome.