Ghana and Nigeria had straightforward wins in their first qualifying matches for the 2012 African Nations Cup.
In Lobamba, the Black Stars, the pick of the continent’s representatives at the World Cup in South Africa two months ago when they reached the quarter-finals, ran out 3-0 winners over Swaziland.
Andre Ayew gave them the lead after 13 minutes, before further strikes from Prince Tagoe (70) and Hans Sarpei (81) saw them ease to a win that moves them above Sudan at the top of Group I.
Nigeria, who managed just one point in a disappointing World Cup campaign, bounced back with a 2-0 triumph over Madagascar in Calabar, thanks to goals from Obafemi Martins (19) and Michael Eneramo (45).
But the win was only good enough to put them second in Group B, behind Guinea after they thrashed Ethiopia 4-1 in Addis Ababa.
It was no easy ride for the visitors, though, who fell behind after Umed Ukuri struck on the half-hour mark. But once Ibrahima Yattara scored after 37 minutes, it was one way traffic for Syli National.
The Trabzonspor striker netted on half time to hand his side the lead and further goals from Karamoko Cisse (60) and Kamil Zayatte (75) saw Guinea ease to victory.
In Group A, Liberia and Zimbabwe played out a 1-1 draw that leaves them playing catch-up behind leaders Cape Verde Islands, who upset Mali 1-0 on Saturday.
Zambia took charge of Group C after thrashing Comoros 4-0 in Lusaka – in a game that was delayed for 24 hours due to the late arrival of the match officials.
Rainford Kalaba put the hosts ahead after five minutes and further strikes from Fwayo Tembo (30) and James Chamanga (40) saw them cruise into the break 3-0 ahead. Emmanuel Mayuka (83) added a fourth goal late on to help the Chipolopolo ease home.
In the group’s other game, Mozambique and Libya played out a goalless draw in Maputo.
Mamadou Niang hit a hat-trick in a six-goal clash in Lubumbashi as Senegal ran out 4-2 winners over DR Congo.
Moussa Sow put the visitors in front after three minutes and they never looked back. Niang scored in the 10th and 19th minutes before completing his treble with a penalty in the 68th minute. The hosts were never really in the game despite Patou Kabangu (44 and 83) netting a brace.
Cameroon head Group E after beating Mauritius on Saturday.
The Group F match between Gambia and Namibia in Banjul was postponed, while Cedric Amissi struck five minutes from time in Group H to help Burundi snatch an unlikely 1-1 draw in Benin.
Mickael Pote opened the scoring after just two minutes in Cotonou and with the home side set to take all the points, Amissi ensured there was a twist at the death.
African champions Egypt were almost stunned by Sierra Leone in Cairo and had to come from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw.
The Pharaohs trailed to a Alhassan Bangura strike after 56 minutes, but Mahmoud Fathallah equalised four minutes later to set up a frantic finish.
But it was not to be for Hassan Shehata’s team, who eventually failed in their search for a winner. They must now play catch-up in Group G after South Africa won their opening match against Niger on Saturday.