Samuel Eto'o scored twice as Cameroon beat Mauritius, Uganda cruised to a 3-0 victory over Angola, and 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers Algeria drew 1-1 with Tanzania as the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition kicked off today.
Inter Milan striker Eto'o scored in each half of a Group E clash before Eric Choupo-Moting converted a penalty as the Indomitable Lions won 3-1 in Bellevue. Jonathan Bru scored a penalty for the islanders.
There was a Scottish flavour to the Ugandan triumph at Mandela Stadium as coach Bobby Williamson saw Hearts striker David Obua put the home team ahead before Andrew Mwesigwa and Geoffrey Sserunkuma struck after half-time.
Uganda are seeking a first appearance at the biennial African football showcase since finishing runners-up behind Ghana in 1978, and they deservedly led 1-0 at half-time after dominating the opening half.
Angola had several narrow escapes before beanpole striker Obua struck on 35 minutes with a perfectly-timed dash into the penalty area to poke a Vincent Kayizzi cross wide of goalkeeper Lama.
Defender Mwesigwa added a second 13 minutes into the second half as he ran past several slow-reacting defenders, controlled the ball superbly on the slippery, muddy surface and fired it into the net.
Pre-match boasts from coach Herve Renard that Angola had "brilliant" footballers were ringing hollow and when they got a chance to pull one goal back soon after, goalkeeper Denis Onyanga came to the Cranes rescue with quick reflexes.
Livewire wide midfielder Kayizzi was tormenting the Angolans and created the third with a cross into the heart of the six-yard box where a powerful Sserunkuma header flew into the roof of the net.
The traditional poor travellers from East Africa stunned the crowd in Blida south of Algiers by taking the lead on 32 minutes when Jerry Tegete slammed a free kick into the net.
Midfielder Adlane Guedioura levelled on the stroke of half-time and the North Africans dominated the second half only to be foiled by combative Tanzanian midfielders who kept scoring chances to a minimum.
Snatching an away point came as a surprise to new Taifa Stars coach Jan Poulsen from Denmark who feared the worst against the 2010 Nations Cup semi-finalists in their fortress.
"Football is not like a factory where you just walk in, start machines and work begins. You work with footballers and it takes time, it takes months, maybe half a year," he warned.
Morocco, shock absentees from the 2010 Nations Cup who have hired Belgian coach Eric Gerets to rebuild the team around Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh, host Central African Republic in the second Group D fixture.
Zambia and Comoros Islands were forced to delay their Group C match in Lusaka at least 24 hours.
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will stage the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations - the first to officially be co-hosted - and the 11 group winners, the Group K runners-up and the best two second-placed teams from the other mini-leagues join them.