Côte d'Ivoire and Togo had away days to forget on Sunday as the race for places at South Africa 2010 continued. While the Elephants were being held to a 0-0 stalemate by unfancied Madagascar, the Sparrowhawks were having their wings clipped in Swaziland.
Those ambushes aside, it was a day of few shocks in Africa, with Cameroon cantering to a 3-0 win in Mauritius, Angola securing a 2-1 victory in Niger, and Ghana doing just enough to see off Lesotho 3-2 in Bloemfontein.
The 35,000 fans shoehorned into the Rufaro Stadium in Harare were in expectant mood as this Group 2 clash between two serious qualification contenders kicked off. And Valinhos's men did not disappoint, storming to a 2-0 win courtesy of a double from Orlando Pirates striker Gilbert Mushangazhike. The Warriors now stand top of the section with four points, one clear of Kenya, surprise victors against Guinea on Saturday, and Namibia.
With Eritrea having already withdrawn from the competition, Group 11 has been reduced to a three-way battle, thus handing outsiders Swaziland an unmissable opportunity to make a name for themselves. Kick-starting their qualification bid at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Mbabane, the Sihlangu served notice of their intentions with a fine 2-1 win over the Germany 2006 finalists, a result that takes them to the top of the pool, ahead of the Togolese on goal difference and with a game in hand.
Player of the day
Jean Chrysostome Raharison
Despite the absence of Didier Drogba from their Group 7 clash with Madagascar in Antananarivo, Côte d'Ivoire would still have expected to return home with three points safely in the bag. But the Elephants reckoned without the defensive solidity of the home side, who showed their improved tactical awareness with a creditable 0-0 draw in Botswana last weekend.
While German coach Franz Gerber deserves much of the credit for fashioning a formidable rearguard, the Scorpions were also indebted to a stunning performance from Raharison between the posts. Holding firm against the formidable Ivorian attack, the USCA Foot Analamanga shotstopper kept his second clean sheet in seven days and is one of only six keepers yet to concede to goal in the African group phase.
9: The number of teams with maximum points in the bag after the first two rounds of qualifiers. Cameroon, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Mali and Egypt have all been word perfect so far.
What they said
"We did what we had to do by coming away with three points. I would have loved to have got a hat-trick tonight but even so I'm happy with the two goals. The altitude affected us in the first half but we knew we had to keep going flat out to get the points. We've been developing and growing as a team for some time now and we know exactly what to expect of each other and what we still have to achieve." Ghana striker Junior Agogo gives his views after scoring twice in his side's 3-2 win over Lesotho in Bloemfontein.
Madagascar 0-0 Côte d'Ivoire
Mauritius 0-3 Cameroon
Zimbabwe 2-0 Namibia
Mozambique 1-2 Botswana
Swaziland 2-1 Togo
Congo 1-0 Sudan
Congo DR 1-0 Malawi
Niger 1-2 Angola
Benin 4-1 Uganda
Ethiopia 1-2 Rwanda
Gambia 0-0 Senegal
Lesotho 2-3 Ghana
Click on the link on the right for all the stats on the Africa Zone and the match reports on Sunday's games.