Being cast in the role of group favourites proved the kiss of death in several of Saturday's CAF Zone qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Egypt, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Morocco, Cameroon, Angola and Mali, many of whom featured at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2008, all dropped precious points on a day of surprises. FIFA World Cup hosts South Africa also suffered defeat in their quest to qualify for the next Africa Cup of Nations.
FIFA.com rounds up all the day's news from across Africa as the continent reaches the midway stage in the second round of qualifying.
After having things all their own way in their first two matches, Rwanda and Morocco came together before a 10,000 crowd Saturday at Kigali's Amahoro stadium for the first clash of the early pace-setters in Group 8. Having taken an early lead in the 14th minute courtesy of Elias Ntaganda, the hosts then had to dig deep as the Atlas Lions began to dominate proceedings.
However, after getting back on terms on the hour mark, Morocco then neglected the basics, deservedly succumbing to defeat after conceding two goals in the closing ten minutes. Midway through the group stage, Branko Tucak's Rwanda side find themselves ideally placed to progress to the final phase of qualifying, although they will be taking nothing for granted with two of their next three games away from home.
Double African champions Egypt are not having things all their own way in their bid to reach South Africa 2010. After just squeezing past Congo DR in their opening fixture, the Pharaohs recovered superbly to thrash Djibouti 4-0 last week. However, on Saturday at Blantyre's Kamuzu stadium, they came unstuck against a Malawi team which is proving a real handful for its Group 12 rivals.
After going down to a Chiukepo Msowoya goal in stoppage time, Hassan Shehata's men now stand third behind Malawi's Flames and DR Congo on goal difference. And if they are to make it out of the group, the Egyptians simply have to beat Malawi in the corresponding fixture in Cairo next week as well as turn in a good showing when they travel to Congo DR in September.
Player of the day
Thanks to a hat-trick by their star striker, Burkina Faso recorded a fine 3-2 away win over Seychelles at the Linite stadium in Victoria. With three of their six group games played, Les Etalons thus find themselves momentarily six points clear of Tunisia and Burundi, who face off this Sunday in Bujumbura, at the top of Group 9. Burkina Faso's performance was all the more impressive given that they found themselves 2-1 down with just under an hour gone. With five goals in three games, Dagano, who plays for Sochaux in France, is currently top scorer in the African Zone.
The numbers game
What they said
"Namibia are really not an agreeable team to come up against. They are normally happy to defend and fire long balls forward. So it wasn't an ideal match for a team like mine, who are very technically adept. We had to adapt and I am satisfied with my players' performance. The match was very difficult in all respects: physically, tactically and above all mentally. We had no choice but to win, and thankfully we managed it." Guinea coach Robert Nouzaret
Malawi 1-0 Egypt
Namibia 1-2 Guinea
Botswana 1-1 Côte d'Ivoire
Gabon 2-0 Ghana
Rwanda 3-1 Morocco
Tanzania 0-0 Cameroon
Kenya 2-0 Zimbabwe
Uganda 3-1 Angola
Niger 0-2 Benin
Chad 2-1 Congo
Sierra Leone 1-0 South Africa *
Seychelles 2-3 Burkina Faso
Gambia 1-0 Algeria
Sudan 3-2 Mali
* For South Africa, Africa Cup of Nations qualifier only
Click on the link on the right for full coverage and match reports from all Saturday's Africa Zone games.