Africa’s World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign began on Wednesday as the continent’s minnows contested for place in the Second Round.
Of the 54 African nations competing for one of five places at the global showpiece, the lowest-ranked 28 teams will contest two-legged First Round qualifiers, with the 14 winners advancing to join the top 26 sides in 10 four-team groups.
The 10 winners of those groups will then compete in home-and-away ties for places at the tournament in Qatar.
Four of the teams who competed at the recent Africa Cup of Nations took to the field on Wednesday in the first batch of qualifiers, with Tanzania’s 1-1 draw in Burundi the highest profile clash of the day.
Cedric Amissi, one of the stars of Burundi’s Afcon qualifying campaign, opened the scoring in the 81st minute in Bujumbura, before Simon Msuva equalised for the Taifa Stars four minutes later.
The duo will meet in Dar es Salaam on September 8 to contest the second leg.
Elsewhere, Namibia defeated Eritrea 2-1 in Asmara following Peter Shalulile’s opener and Esey Tesfay’s own goal, while Guinea-Bissau will hold a narrow advantage at home against Sao Tome e Principe after Nanu’s late penalty secured a narrow away win.
Djibouti continued their return to prominence under Julien Mette with a 2-1 victory over Eswatini, while Liberia took a giant step towards the group stage with a 3-1 win against Sierra Leone in Paynesville.
South Sudan came back from a goal down to hold Equatorial Guinea 1-1 in neutral Omdurman, while Mozambique are overwhelming favourites to advance against Mauritius following a 1-0 triumph away from home.
First leg bouts will take place over the coming three days, with Zimbabwe’s away trip to Somalia and the meeting between The Gambia and Angola the picks of the ties.
For the first time in history, Fifa are broadcasting all of the Round One matches across the continental live on their digital platforms.