South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Burkina Faso all recorded victories on Saturday as qualifying continued across Africa for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
South Africa inflicted a first competitive defeat on Senegal since January 2015, winning 2-1 in Polokwane to go second on goal difference in Group D behind Burkina Faso who won 2-0 away to Cape Verde.
Algeria also suffered their first competitive defeat since the 2015 Nations Cup with a 2-1 loss in Nigeria.
The Super Eagles have taken a four point lead in Group B after Cameroon were held to a 1-1 draw by Zambia.
Uganda’s recent resurgence continued with a 1-0 victory over Congo Brazzaville in Kampala to lead the Group E standings.
South Africa coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba knew that anything less than a win against Group D pacesetters Senegal would increase the pressure on him, after Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
The hosts took the lead in the 43rd minute after a contentious penalty was awarded for handball.
Thulani Hlatshwayo confidently shot past Abdoulaye Diallo to successfully convert the spot-kick and put South Africa 1-0 up.
Just minutes later, Bafana Bafana doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time, thanks to an impressive individual goal from Thulani Serero to leave Senegal facing an uphill task.
Senegal grabbed a consolation goal 15 minutes from time through Cheikh Ndoye, but they could not find a path through a stubborn South African defence, to taste a competitive defeat for the first time in almost two years.
South Africa are second in group D after Burkina Faso went top on goal-difference with a 2-0 win away to Cape Verde.
First-half goals from Banou Diawara and Prejuce Nakoulma gave Burkina Faso the victory in Praia.
Chelsea’s Victor Moses scored twice as Nigeria kept up their winning start to the group phase of 2018 World Cup qualifying with a 3-1 victory over Algeria in Uyo to make it two wins out of two in Group B.
The Super Eagles took the lead through Moses in the 25th minute, and they made it 2-0 just before half-time when another Chelsea player, John Mikel Obi, beat Algeria’s off-side trap to slot home as Algeria’s defenders stood and watched.
Algeria did have chances to get back into the game – the best of them coming from Nabil Bentaleb who missed from close range.
Bentaleb made amends mid-way through the second half with a powerful shot from 25 yards to make it 2-1.
That goal made it a frenetic end to the match, with Nigeria making sure of the three points with a third goal – a second from Moses in stoppage time to win 3-1.
Nigeria have a comfortable cushion at the top of Group B, after Cameroon were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Zambia in Limbe.
Zambia took a shock lead through Collins Mbesuma in the 34th minute, with Cameroon’s equaliser coming from the penalty spot, as Vincent Aboubakar struck just before half-time.
In a blow for Zambia, their influential TP Mazembe player Rainford Kalaba was booked with the Zambia FA confirming he will now miss their match against Algeria.
In Kampala, Uganda picked up three more points in Group E with a 1-0 win over Congo Brazzaville.
A goal from 18-year-old forward Farouk Miya in the 18th minute was enough to give the Cranes a vital victory which takes them to the top of the group on four points.
Miya, who plays for Standard Liege in Belgium, controlled the ball effortlessly to shoot past Congolese goalkeeper Mongondza Ngobo, and add another goal to his growing international tally.
Uganda had a wealth of chances for both Miya and captain Geofrey Massa, but the hosts failed to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal.
They were almost made to pay late on in the match when their Congolese opponents had a clear shot on goal, only for the Ugandan defence to clear it off the line.
Veteran Cranes midfielder Tony Mawejje was visibly upset when stretchered off with an injury midway through the second half, an incident that clouded an otherwise impressive afternoon for the hosts.
In Group C, Mali and Gabon drew 0-0 in Bamako, while Morocco and leaders Ivory Coast also saw out a goalless draw.
On Friday, the second round of group games got underway in Algeria where the Group A match between Libya and Tunisia took place on security grounds.
A penalty from Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri was enough to give Tunisia a 1-0 victory and take them to the top of Group A with two wins out of two.
Libya are bottom of the group after two consecutive defeats.
The other Group A game pits Guinea against the Democratic Republic of Congo – one of two African 2018 World Cup qualifiers on Sunday. The other Sunday fixture is between Egypt and Ghana in group E.
Only the five group winners will qualify for Russia 2018.