African superstar Samuel Eto'o scored as Cameroon opened their challenge for a record sixth FIFA World Cup™ appearance with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde Islands Saturday. Barcelona striker Eto'o converted a penalty 10 minutes into the second half in Yaounde to complete a comfortable triumph set up by an early goal from veteran defender Rigobert Song. Cameroon competed at the FIFA World Cup in 1982, 1990, when they became the first African quarter-finalists, 1994, 1998 and 2002 and are poised to dominate Group 1 in the second qualifying phase for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Tanzania were surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Mauritius in the same group with Danny Mrwanda scoring a 70th-minute equaliser after Wesley Marquette had edged the Indian Ocean islanders in front before half-time.
Namibia leave it late
Namibia snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Kenya in Windhoek thanks to a Costa Khaiseb goal 60 seconds from full-time in Group 2, which includes Guinea and Zimbabwe and is likely to be among the most fiercely contested. Germany-based Oliver Risser put shock 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Namibia ahead after 17 minutes and Allan Watende levelled late in the first half for the 'Harambee Stars'.
Uganda, who came agonisingly close to reaching the Cup of Nations in Ghana last January, battled to overcome minnows Niger 1-0 in a Group 3 showdown in Kampala courtesy of a goal 11 minutes into the second half from Ibrahim Sekagya.
Botswana fared even worse at home to Madagascar in Group 7, having to settle for a 0-0 draw after Pontsho Moloi thought he had scored in each half only to have both efforts disallowed for offside.
Rwanda, Malawi win easy
Rwanda had better luck at home to Mauritania in Group 8 with Saidi Abedi converting a penalty and Bokota Labama also on target in the closing stages to complete a 3-0 victory set up by a first-half Olivier Karekezi goal.
Malawi brutally exposed the limitations of Djibouti, the lowest ranked of the 47 second round competitors, with six second-half goals that earned the central Africans an 8-1 win in Blantyre. Russia-based Esau Kanyenda led the goal romp with a hat-trick and Elvis Kafoteka, Joseph Kamwendo, Moses Chavula, Robert Ngambi and Noel Mkandawire also scored for the 'Flames' in the Group 12 encounter.
Daya Hassan struck midway through the first half for Djibouti, who are not strangers to humiliating losses having been overwhelmed 9-1 away to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a FIFA World Cup qualifier eight years ago.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers double as eliminators for the Cup of Nations in Angola the same year.