Home competition discipline Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia win, but Ivory Coast enjoy goal feast

Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia win, but Ivory Coast enjoy goal feast

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The Ivorians, who will host the Africa Cup of Nations in January, won 9-0 at home to the Seychelles in their Group F opener in a bright start to their bid for a place at the 2026 finals.

Fans of Ivory Coast’s soccer team celebrate their team winning. FIle picture: REUTERS, Luc Gnago

IVORY Coast enjoyed a goal rout at the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign, but fellow African heavyweights Cameroon, Ghana and Tunisia made heavy work of home games against lowly opposition on Friday.

The Ivorians, who will host the Africa Cup of Nations in January, won 9-0 at home to the Seychelles in their Group F opener in a bright start to their bid for a place at the 2026 finals, when the World Cup will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the US.

Teenage striker Karim Konate and substitute Hamed Traore both scored twice in a game that might have seen a bigger victory had it not been for some fine saves by Carlos Simoen.

Tunisia captain Youssef Msakni was among the scorers as they won 4-0 at home to 186th-ranked, Atlantic island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe in Group H.

Cameroon, who have been to more World Cups than any other African country, had to battle for a 3-0 win against Mauritius, 134 places below them in the Fifa rankings.

Bryan Mbuemo’s close-range finish on the stroke of halftime opened the scoring, and the Indomitable Lions added two late goals in their Group D game in Douala.

There was an even more laboured home win for Ghana, who finally broke the deadlock six minutes into stoppage time at home to Madagascar in Group I as former Spain international Inaki Williams scored his first goal for the Black Stars.

The Comoros Islands won 4-2 in the same group against the Central African Republic at home in Moroni, while 30-year-old debutant Youssoufou Niakate was among the scorers as Mali beat Chad 3-1, in Bamako, in their game in the section.

Patson Daka scored twice as Zambia began their Group E campaign with a 4-2 home win over Congo in Ndola, fighting back from a 2-1 deficit after 15 minutes.

Seydouba Cisse netted four minutes into stoppage time to hand Guinea a 2-1 win over Uganda in Group G in a match played in Berkane, Morocco. Guinea are among the 19 African countries forced to move their home qualifiers to neutral venues because of poor facilities or concern over the security in their countries.

Despite the absence of skipper Naby Keita, Guinea took an early lead, but Uganda – with Belgian coach Paul Put in charge for the first time – levelled through Fahad Bayo on the half-hour.

Eswatini hosted their Group D clash over the border in Mbombela, but lost to Libya, for whom Ahmed Ekrawa scored the only goal early in the second half.

In Group H, Malawi won 1-0 in Liberia as substitute Chifundo Mphasi scored in Monrovia, and there was another away upset in Group A, where Guinea Bissau held Burkina Faso to a 1-1 draw.

There are nine groups in the African preliminaries where the winner qualifies for the 2026 finals.

The four best runners-up get a further chance to qualify in a two-tier play-off system.

Reuters

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