Positive starts for Togo, Angola in World Cup qualifiers

Angola and Togo made encouraging starts in their bids to reach the 2022 World Cup finals with positive away results on Friday in the first legs of their first round ties.

Angola defender Wilson Gaspar scored the winner in a 1-0 victory against The Gambia while Togo drew 1-1 away to Comoros, with the return legs tomorrow.

The results put both Angola and Togo closer to a place in next year’s 2022 World Cup group qualifying phase.

Angola and Togo were surprise qualifiers for the 2006 finals in Germany but their current low rankings meant they had to take part in the first round of the African preliminaries for Qatar 2022 as part of the 28 bottom-ranked teams on the continent.

All those countries are involved in two-leg knockout ties to determine the 14 who advance to the group phase, where they will join the 26 top-ranked sides in the 40-team, 10-group second phase.

In another development, Somalia won their first ever World Cup qualifier with a narrow 1-0 victory over Zimbabwe on Thursday.

Ranked 202 in the world, Somalia halted a run of 19 successive defeats stretching back eight years to secure their first qualifying win.

Anwar Sid Ali Shakunda headed home the only goal of the game in the 87th minute, in a match played in Djibouti due to the security problems in Somalia.

Botswana were held 0-0 by Malawi on Saturday as home sides continued to struggle in 2022 World Cup first round first leg qualifiers across Africa.

Only three of the 14 matches since Wednesday produced home victories, while five hosts drew and six lost.

The return matches are scheduled for yesterday and tomorrow.

It was a disappointing start for new Botswana coach, Adel Amrouche, who was told by officials when hired last month to “do well” in the World Cup. –BBC

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