Nigeria, Namibia, Guinea-Bissau, Central African Republic and Malawi began their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations group campaigns with victories at home.
The hosts for 2021, Cameroon, were held to a goalless draw by visiting Cape Verde while Lesotho scored late for a 1-1 draw in Sierra Leone.
Nigeria had to come from behind in Uyo to edge past neighbours Benin 2-1 in Group L.
Veteran forward Stephane Sessegnon scored the opener for the Squirrels after just three minutes as he took advantage of some poor defending to put the ball past Nigeria keeper Daniel Akpeyi.
The Super Eagles then came close on 40 minutes as Villareal’s Samuel Chukwueze hit the woodwork.
Nigeria drew level in injury time at the end of the first half when Victor Osimhen scored from the penalty spot to continue the form he has been enjoying at French side Lille, where he has scored nine goals this season.
The referee awarded the spot kick after a foul on Torino’s former Chelsea player Ola Aina.
Bordeaux’s Samuel Kalu sealed the win just past the hour mark as he dribbled into the area to score from close range.
In the other Group L game Sierra Leone and Lesotho drew 1-1 as both sides finished with 10 men.
Iceland-based Kwame Quee scored for Sierra Leone in an empty stadium in the 69th minute to give the hosts the lead.
Then in the 83rd minute Lesotho captain Marepe Basia was dismissed for a second yellow card for foul play and then George Kweku Davies was shown a straight red for his retaliation.
The visitors then grabbed a point in the third minute of injury time through Thabantso Jane.
CAR scored the first goal of the group stages after just five minutes when Vianney Mabide, who plays in Morocco for Kawkab Marrakech, struck in the 2-0 win over Burundi.
The second goal of the Group E encounter came late in the game and was scored by France-born Louis Mafouta, who plays in the French fourth-tier for RC Grasse.
Malawi’s winner in their Group B match came from Orlando Pirates forward Gabadinho Mhango in the 67th minute as they beat South Sudan 1-0.
Mhango picked up a pass from Gerald Phiri Jr before beating two defenders inside the area and then firing in a fierce shot that South Sudan keeper Majak Mawith was unable to hold as the ball spilled into the net.
It was however a difficult game for Malawi as they struggled to find any fluidity early on, while South Sudan will draw some positives from the match as they twice were denied by the woodwork.
In Group A, Namibia earned a 2-1 win over visiting Chad.
Chad’s Mathieu Adoassou put the ball into his own net to give hosts Namibia the lead on 66 minutes and just two minutes later things were level when Indonesia-based Ezechiel N’Douassel
Defender Chris Katjiukua, who plays in South Africa for Black Leopards scored the winner in the 76th minute.
Guinea-Bissau began their quest for a third straight appearance at the Nations Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over visiting Eswatini in Group I.
Jorginho and Piqueti both scored just before half-time and then Joao Mario sealed the win in the 73rd minute.
Cameroon, who have already qualified for the finals as hosts, were held to a goalless draw by Cape Verde in Yaounde in Group F.
The Indomitable Lions qualify for the finals as hosts but are taking part in the qualifying campaign to gain competitive match practice which means just one team from Group F will progress to the finals.
The top two sides in the remaining 11 groups will all advance to the 2021 finals in Cameroon.
Wednesday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations results:
- Namibia 2-1 Chad (Group A)
- Malawi 1-0 South Sudan (Group B)
- Burkina Faso 0-0 Uganda (Group B)
- Sudan 4-0 Sao Tome and Principe (Group C)
- Angola 1-3 The Gambia (Group D)
- CAR 2-0 Burundi (Group E)
- Cameroon 0-0 Cape Verde (Group F)
- Guinea Bissau 3-0 Eswatini (Group I)
- Senegal 2-0 Congo (Group I)
- Nigeria 2-1 Benin (Group L)
- Sierra Leone 1-1 Lesotho (Group L)