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Favourites shine in African World Cup qualifiers

Ivory Coast got their bid for a 4th successive World Cup berth underway with a strong showing against Mali.

FILE: SA Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - While all South African eyes were fixed on Bafana Bafana this weekend as they embarked on their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign against Burkina Faso, the giants on the African continent went on about their business in typical dominant fashion.

The Ivory Coast got their bid for a fourth successive World Cup berth underway with a strong showing against Mali, beating their neighbours 3-1 at home, after coming from a goal down.

The reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions had some of their experienced players, such as Serge Aurier and Gervinho put their hands up and guide them to victory.

Former African champions Nigeria also had the pleasure of their international stars standing up and being counted, as they grabbed an important 2-1 away win against Zambia, with Premier Soccer League top goal scorer, Collins Mbesuma, getting the only goal for the Zambians.

The most successful team in Africa, Egypt, continued their resurgence from the pits of football, as they got all three points against Congo, in Congo, but it proved to be a hard fought victory as they could only manage to take it by two goals to one.

Tunisia and Senegal managed to put two unanswered goals past Guinea and the Cape Verde respectively, which puts South Africa in a slightly discomforting position in Group D, as they will now have to start playing catch-up.

Bafana surrendered a one goal advantage against the Burkinabe, in Ouagadougou, in a match they looked set to lose, after conceding two penalties, one of which Itumeleng Khune saved.

Dean Furman gave coach Shakes Mashaba's side the lead with 10 minutes left in the match, but some very sloppy defending from Bafana saw Burkina steal a goal and a draw deep in injury time.

Bafana will next face Senegal in their second qualifier at home and will require nothing but a win, if they want to keep their Russia World Cup fate in their own hands.

In other results across the continent, the Democratic Republic of Congo proved too good for Libya, as they hammered them 4-0 at home, to properly position themselves at the top of Group A.

Then there were draws in three other matches; Algeria were held to 1-1 by Cameroon, Morocco claimed a valuable away point against 2017 Afcon hosts Gabon, while Ghana were surprisingly frustrated by Uganda in their own backyard, playing out to a goalless stalemate.