Samuel Eto’o scored twice as Cameroon won in Mauritius Saturday and Rabah Saadane quit as Algeria coach after a home draw with Tanzania when the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers kicked off.
Uganda outclassed Angola 3-0 in wet Kampala and Botswana grabbed a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Togo in Gaborone to enhance chances of a first appearance at the tournament.
Inter Milan striker Eto’o scored in each half of a Group E clash before Eric Choupo-Moting converted a penalty as the ‘Indomitable Lions’ won 3-1 in Bellevue where Jonathan Bru scored from a spot kick for the islanders.
Saadane had hinted he would quit after the World Cup where they held England only to lose narrowly against Slovenia and the USA and ended his fifth stint in charge after the Desert Foxes dropped two unexpected points in a 1-1 draw.
Joel Mogorosi gave shock Group K pacesetters Botswana an early lead only for Floyd Ayite to equalise on the stroke of half-time, but Jerome Ramatlhakwane snatched his third goal of the qualifiers in the final minute.
There was a Scottish flavour to the Ugandan triumph at Mandela Stadium as coach Bobby Williamson saw Hearts striker David Obua put the home team ahead before Andrew Mwesigwa and Geoffrey Sserunkuma struck after half-time.
Uganda are seeking a first appearance at the biennial African football showcase since finishing 1978 runners-up behind Ghana and deservedly led 1-0 at half-time after dominating the opening half.
Angola had several narrow escapes before beanpole striker Obua struck on 35 minutes with a perfectly timed dash into the penalty area to poke a Vincent Kayizzi cross wide of goalkeeper Lama.
Huge defender Mwesigwa added a second 13 minutes into the second half as he ran past several slow-reacting defenders, controlled the ball superbly on the slippery, muddy surface and fired it into the net.
Pre-match boasts from French coach Herve Renard that Angola had “brilliant” footballers were ringing hollow and when they got a chance to hit back, goalkeeper Denis Onyanga came to the Cranes rescue with quick reflexes.
Livewire wide midfielder Kayizzi was tormenting the Angolans and created the third with a cross into the heart of the six-year box where a powerful Sserunkuma header flew into the roof of the net.
Algeria, shock qualifiers for the World Cup at the expense of seven-time African champions Egypt, were stunned in Blida when Jerry Tegete slammed a free kick into the net after 32 minutes.
Midfielder Adlane Guedioura levelled on the stroke of half-time and the North Africans dominated the second half only to be foiled by combative Tanzanian midfielders who kept scoring chances to a minimum.
Snatching an away point came as a surprise to new Taifa Stars coach Jan Poulsen from Denmark who feared the worst against the 2010 Nations Cup semi-finalists in their fortress.
Zambia and Comoros Islands were forced to delay their Group C match in Lusaka at least 24 hours because the Eritrean referee and his assistants failed to arrive.
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