Sunday 09 October 2016, 23:52

Black Stars held, Super Eagles off to a flying start

THE MATCH DAY REPLAYED – The Cranes take some of the sparkle out of the Black Stars, Egypt come back in Congo. Burkina Faso miss two penalties and need a last-gasp equaliser for a share of the spoils against South Africa. The Elephants continue an amazing run and Nigeria look strong in the Group of Death. looks back at an action-packed first match day in the group phase of the FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers in Africa.

Results Group A: Congo DR 4-0 Libya, Tunisia 2-0 Guinea Group B: Zambia 1-2 Nigeria, Algeria 1-1 Cameroon Group C: Gabon 0-0 Morocco, Côte d'Ivoire 3-1 Mali Group D: Senegal 2-0 Cape Verde Islands, Burkina Faso 1-1 South Africa Group E: Congo 1-2 Egypt, Ghana 0-0 Uganda

Match of the day Congo 1-2 Egypt Dore 24, Salah 41, Said 58 Egypt's last appearance on the global stage was in 1990 – at a time when most of the present day players in their squad were not even born. Playing their opening Group E game in Brazzaville the Pharaohs' players knew the importance of getting their campaign off to a winning start, but they soon found themselves playing catch-up. Ferebory Dore gave the home side the lead midway through the first half with a header after the Egyptian defence failed to clear the ball. The visitors managed to level matters shortly before the break though as Mohamed Salah made amends for two earlier misses, heading a Mohamed Abdel-Shafy cross home. Worse was to follow for the home fans shortly after the restart as Abdallah Said gave the North Africans a second goal after being set up by Salah. Veteran 43-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary secured the three points for Egypt late in the game, denying the home side a deserved equaliser with a string of good saves.

Elsewhere The other match in Group E saw Uganda surprisingly hold Ghana's Black Stars to a goalless draw in Tamale. The home side dominated throughout the 90 minutes and should have wrapped matters up, but Dennis Onyango in goals for the Cranes was outstanding. In Group A Dieumerci Mbokani scored twice as Congo DR secured the biggest win of weekend, beating Libya 4-0 to head the group from Tunisia who saw off the Guinean challenge 2-0, with Aymen Abdennour and Anis Ben-Hatira scoring after the break.

In Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso missed two penalties and needed a last-gasp goal from Banou Diawara to salvage a 1-1 draw against South Africa, whose goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune saved Jonathan Pitroipa's spot-kicks, while Alain Traore missed his. Group favourites Senegal beat Cape Verde Islands 2-0 to lead Group D from Burkina Faso and South Africa. Ivorian veteran striker Gervinho was one of the scorers for the Elephants as they maintained their excellent World Cup form, beating Mali 3-1 in Bouake in a Group C game, while next year's Africa Cup of Nations hosts Gabon played to a goalless draw against four-time World Cup finalists Morocco in Franceville.

Group B has been termed the Group of Death and sees three of Africa's 2010 and 2014 finalists competing for the one qualifying place. Nigeria had their Premier League contingent to thank for a 2-1 win in Zambia, with Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho scoring for the Super Eagles. In the other match, Cameroon secured a good away point in Algeria, holding the home side to a 1-1. El Arabi Soudani scored for the home side early on, but Benjamin Moukandjo equalised midway through the first half.

Player of the weekend Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho has been grabbing his fair share of the headlines in England, recently joining an illustrious club of just 16 players to have scored 20 Premier League goals before their 20th birthday. On the weekend the striker scored an important goal for Nigeria's Super Eagles. Iheanacho went around goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and was just about on the line before turning back and scoring from an acute angle despite three Zambian defenders on the goal line.

The number 6 - The times Congo and Egypt have played against each other. None of these matches have ended in a draw, with Egypt's come-back victory in Brazzaville on the weekend their fifth win against the Diables Rouges.

Did you know? Cote d'Ivoire are on a run of 24 World Cup qualifiers without defeat, going back to September 2005, when they were beaten 3-2 at home by Cameroon. Since then, the Elephants have played 24 matches, winning 17 and drawing 7.

What they said "To go 1-0 up was great‚ but in those situations I feel we have to seal the game. They missed the second penalty and that gave us another lifeline to hold on to. There's an overall feeling of frustration‚ that we let it slip at the last minute. We want to go to the World Cup and every game will be treated as a cup final. We have to make our home form is one of our strongest points,” Dean Furman, South African scorer in Bafana's 1-1 draw in Burkina Faso.