Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire both took giant steps towards the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa next year by reaching the halfway stage of qualification with maximum points in their respective groups.
In a top-of-the-table clash in Ouagadougou, the Elephants overcame their previously-unbeaten hosts Burkina Faso 3-2 in an entertaining encounter at Stade du 4 Aout. Yaya Toure (14) put the visitors ahead early on before Jonathan Pitroipa (27) levelled matters.
But an unfortunate own goal from Mamadou Tall (54) restored the advantage for the Ivorians and Didier Drogba (70) put them two clear before Aristide Bance (78) set up a frantic finish. However, it was not to be as Vahid Halilhodzic's team held on to move on to nine points in Group E, three ahead of the Burkinabe.
Elsewhere, a brace from Matthew Amoah helped the Black Stars move well clear at the top of Group E thanks to a 2-0 win over Sudan in Omdurman. The NAC Breda star scored early in each half, popping up in the fifth and 52nd minutes, to help his side go six points clear of Benin, who face Mali tomorrow.
The big game in Group B failed to produce the expected drama as Tunisia were held to a goalless draw by Nigeria in Rades. The point for the visitors ended the hosts' perfect record, but the Carthage Eagles remain two points clear of the Super Eagles at the top of the table.
In the same pool, McDonald Mariaga scored a penalty 14 minutes from time to hand Kenya their first win of the final stage with a 2-1 success over Mozambique in Nairobi.
Julius Owino (11) opened the scoring for the Harambee Stars. Elias Domingues (50) gave the visitors hope before the Parma midfielder's decisive strike. The three points lifted the Kenyans above Mozambique into third place behind Nigeria.
In Group A, Morocco kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying after a goalless draw with Togo in Rabat. The point moved the Atlas Lions up to third, one clear of Cameroon, whose game with table-topping Gabon was rescheduled for September due to the state funeral of President Omar Bongo.
The Sparrowhawks, who were without the suspended Emmanuel Adebayor, are second in the group with four points.
Finally, Algeria tightened their hold on Group C with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Zambia in Chililabombwe. With African champions Egypt not in action due to their involvement in the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, the Desert Foxes took full advantage thanks to goals from Madjid Bougherra (21) and Rafik Saifi (66).
The win moved them six points clear of their arch-rivals, while the Zambians stay on four points, followed by Rwanda and the Pharaohs, both on a single point each with a game in hand.