Angola and Togo made encouraging starts in their bids to reach the 2022 World Cup finals with positive away results in the first legs of their first round ties that put them closer to a place in next year’s group qualifying phase.
Angola defender Wilson Gaspar scored the winner in a 1-0 victory against Gambia while Togo drew 1-1 in the Comoros Islands, with the return legs to come on Tuesday.
Angola and Togo were surprise qualifiers for the 2006 finals in Germany but their current low rankings dictated participation 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.
Wilson Gaspar scored after 32 minutes for Angola, who survived a late onslaught by their west African hosts, and head home with a handy advantage for the return match in Luanda.
Togo also took the lead just after the half-hour mark in their clash with Comoros in Moroni through Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba.
But debutant Ibroihim Djoudja snapped up a rebound after Togo goalkeeper Sabirou Bassa parried away a freekick to give the Indian Ocean islanders an equaliser just after halftime.
Somalia earn first ever World Cup win
On Thursday, Somalia made history when the national team stole the World Cup qualifiers spotlight by defeating Zimbabwe 1-0 to record their first ever World Cup win.
Ranked 202nd in the world, Somalia halted a run of 19 successive defeats stretching back eight years to secure their first qualifying win as Anwar Sid Ali Shakunda scored an 87th- minute winner in Djibouti.
Zimbabwe, who played in the Africa Cup of Nations finals two months ago and are 90 places higher in the FIFA rankings, had been expected to easily win a game played on neutral territory because of the unstable security situation in Somalia.
They had several scares, however, before Shakunda rose to head home at the back post and earn Somalia a first win in a major tournament preliminary since beating Kenya in Cup of Nations qualification in 1984.
Somalia, with seven debutants among a number of new players from immigrant communities in Europe and north America, still have to get through 90 minutes of Tuesday’s return match in Harare if they are to advance to the group stage.