For the majority of African favourites, the passage into the second round of CAF qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ was smooth. For three of them, however, the journey has already come to an end.
Highlights **Abdul Razak the hero* *Forward Fiston Abdul Razak, who plays his club football for South African club Mamelodi Sundowns, was the hero for Burundi, scoring two goals in the 2-0 victory over Seychelles in the second leg. The islanders are still waiting for their first-ever World Cup victory after Razak also scored the only goal in the first leg in Roche Caiman.
*Madagascar held at home *Madagascar did most of the hard work away from home with a 3-0 victory in the Central African Republic. They could thus afford to treat their fans in the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in the capital Antananarivo to an entertaining match, in which all four goals were scored before the break. Junior Gourrier gave the visitors the lead in the seventh minute, before Falimery Ramanamahefa and Abel Andrianantenaina turned things around. Eudes Dagoulou then levelled matters just before half-time to make the final score 2-2.
*Namibia survive scare After playing to a 1-1 draw in Gambia, Namibian coach Ricardo Mannetti was hoping for an easier task at home, but it was not to be as the visitors worked hard to find an upset. With the score again knotted at 1-1, it took a Hendrik Somaeb goal on the hour to separate the two teams and send the Brave Warriors* through to the next round.
*Eritrea continue waiting*** As one of the African teams that has never won a World Cup match, the going was always going to be tough for Eritrea in Francistown against Botswana, especially as the home side had won the first leg 2-0 in Eritrea. But Henok Goitom claimed the opening goal for Eritrea to give his side something to cheer about. It was only the third goal the Red Sea Boys had ever scored in qualifying. Mogakolodi Ngele killed off any hope they had of surprising the home side with a brace and Joel Mogorosi added a third for the Zebras, who won 5-1 on aggregate.
A draw in Nairobi Under most circumstances, Mauritius would have been well pleased to escape Nairobi with a goalless draw. However, after losing the opening leg 5-2 the draw against the Harambee Stars merely restored some Mauritian pride at the Moi International Sports Center.
Upsets ***Chad stun Sierra Leone** Although Sierra Leone lost their first leg 1-0 in N'Djamena, the Leone Stars* were expected to turn things around in the return leg, even though they had to play their home match in Nigeria. Their task was made more difficult early on as Leger Djimrangar gave Chad the lead in the 45th minute. Although Alhaji Kamara (70) and Abdul Sesay (79) turned things around, it was too little, too late as Chad went through on the away-goal rule to advance to the next stage for the first time in their history – having twice been denied the privilege on the away-goal rule.
Comoros make history The island-state of Comoros advanced to the second round of the qualifying competition for the first time in their history after a 1-1 draw in Lesotho. What makes Les Coelecantes' success even more remarkable is the fact that they have yet to win a single World Cup qualifying game. Mohamed M'Changama was the hero for his side as his goal secured the win on the away-goal rule after a scoreless first leg.
Taifa Stars keep on shining Tanzania, ranked 35 places behind Malawi, were made to struggle by the Flames as the home side went ahead shortly before the break through John Banda. But although the southern African country threw everything forward in the second half, they failed to find the other goal that would have tied matters, and the Taifa Stars advanced 2-1 on aggregate.
Star player Liberian coach James Debbah had called on his strikers to make more of their chances after the Lone Stars drew 1-1 with Guinea-Bissau in the first leg in Monrovia, and Spanish-based striker William Jebor heeded his coaches' call. The 23-year-old scored twice early on in the game in Bissau. Although the home side pulled one back shortly before the break, they had little more to add before Jebor grabbed his hat-trick in injury time. The three goals took his tally to four after he already scored his side's only goal in the 1-1 draw in the first leg.
**The number** 4 - The number of goals that Niger striker Moussa Maazou scored in the Menas' 6-0 aggregate victory against Somalia. Maazou, who plays his club football in China PR, grabbed both in the 2-0 first leg victory in Addis Ababa and then added two more in the 4-0 win in Niamey.
**What they said** **“We thank God that we managed to go through despite our failure to score goals. We will work on our minor mistakes while in Dar Es Salaam and begin preparing intensely for our match against Algeria,” Tanzania coach Charles Boniface Mkwasa**, whose side advanced, despite losing the return leg 1-0 in Malawi.
Second leg results
Malawi 1-0 Tanzania (1-2 on aggregate)
Ethiopia 3-0 Sao Tome and Principe (3-1 on aggregate)
Kenya 0-0 Mauritius (5-2 on aggregate)
Madagascar 2-2 Central African Republic
Burundi 2-0 Seychelles (3-0 on aggregate)
Namibia 2-1 Gambia (3-2 on aggregate)
Sierra Leone 2-1 Chad (2-2 on aggregate, Chad advance on away goal rule)
Niger 4-0 Somalia (6-0 on aggregate)
Guinea-Bissau 1-3 Liberia (2-4 on aggregate)
Lesotho 1-1 Comoros (1-1 on aggregate, Comoros advance on away goal rule)
Mauritania 4-0 South Sudan (5-1 on aggregate)
Botswana 3-1 Eritrea (5-1 on aggregate)
Postponed: Swaziland – Djibouti
Second round draw**
Niger v Cameroon
Mauritania v Tunisia
Namibia v Guinea
Ethiopia v Congo
Chad v Egypt
Comoros v Ghana
Swaziland/Djibouti v Nigeria
Botswana v Mali
Burundi v DR Congo
Liberia v Côte d’Ivoire
Madagascar v Senegal
Kenya v Cape Verde
Tanzania v Algeria
Sudan v Zambia
Libya v Rwanda
Morocco v Equatorial Guinea
Mozambique v Gabon
Benin v Burkina Faso
Togo v Uganda
Angola v South Africa