The first group phase in the African qualifying competition for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ got under way on Saturday, and the only big winners on the day were Malawi, who put eight past Djibouti.

There were no major surprises in the afternoon's eight games, with continental powerhouses Cameroon and Togo winning their respective engagements to take early leads in their groups.

And here to round up all the day's news is

Game of the day
Togo 1-0 Zambia
Goal: Adekamni Olufade, 16

As in many of the other sections, the headline clash in Group 11 came on the very first day, with the Sparrowhawks of Togo taking on the Copper Bullets of Zambia. Despite being forced to play at the Ohene-Djan Stadium in the Ghanaian capital of Accra due to the suspension imposed on their home ground in Lome, Henri Stambouli's side took a big stride towards securing top spot in the group.

Olufade put them in the driving seat 16 minutes in and that is where the Germany 2006 finalists stayed to clinch a vital opening-day win. With only three teams in the pool following Eritrea's withdrawal, Togo will be anxious not to drop points when they take on a beatable Swaziland team on the road in their next game.

Surprise of the day
Tanzania 1-1 Mauritius
Goals: Danny Mrwanda 70 (Tanzania); Wesley Marquette 39 (Mauritius)

Minnows Mauritius made a mockery of the 104-place gap separating them from Tanzania in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking when the two sides met at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam. The visitors even had the audacity to take a first-half lead before the Tanzanians, pushed on by their excitable fans, eventually levelled things up. The hosts could not find a winner, though, leaving the islanders with an early advantage in Group 1.

Player of the day
Essau Kanyenda

The Malawi striker was the artifice of his side's thumping 8-1 win over Group 12 rivals Djibouti in Blantyre. The scorer of a hat-trick that included two goals in the first five minutes of the second half, Kanyenda, who plies his trade with Russian second-division outfit KamAZ Naberezhnye Chelny, helped Kinnah Phiri's side move to second in the scoring charts for the African qualifying campaign (click on Statistics in the right-hand column). All in all, the ideal way to celebrate Malawi's 40th FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Number crunching
The number of goals scored by Cameroon in 60 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. It was fitting, then, that inspirational captain Rigobert Song should score goal No 100 in the 2-0 win over Cape Verde Islands.

What they said
"We're a team rebuilding. We don't have to be ashamed of this loss. We will carry on working and I believe if we work hard, we will be on the right way," Rabbah Saadane, Algeria coach.

Saturday's results:
Malawi 8-1 Djibouti
Namibia 2-1 Kenya
Botswana 0-0 Madagascar
Cameroon 2-0 Cape Verde Islands
Rwanda 3-0 Mauritania
Togo 1-0 Zambia
Tanzania 1-1 Mauritius
Uganda 1-0 Niger
Morocco 3-0 Ethiopia
Senegal 1-0 Algeria

The Gabon-Lesotho and Sudan-Chad matches were postponed. Click on the link on the right for the match reports from all Saturday's games.