- Morocco beat Ethiopia 2-0 with Hakimi missing a penalty
- Niger beat Zambia in the other group match
- Ethiopia were thrashed 3-0 by Burkina Faso
Morocco started their journey towards qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win away to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam. Hakim Ziyech broke the deadlock in the first half before Morocco went 2-0 up in the second half courtesy of a Lusajo Mwaikenda own goal.
Tanzania had to play the last 25 minutes of the match after left back Novatus Miroshi was sent off for a second bookable offense.
Morocco started the duel well and had the chance to break the deadlock after just three minutes when Amin Adli was brought down inside the box, but Achraf Hakimi sent his penalty high over the bar.
They were relentless though and the Atlas Lions broke the deadlock in the 28th minute when Ziyech broke the deadlock, beating keeper Aishi Manula with a brilliant long range effort, almost from 40 yards out.
They doubled their lead in the 53rd minute when Mwaikenda inadvertently turned the ball into his own net as he attempted to intercept a tap from Youssef En Nessyri.
Tanzania’s attempts to get back into the game were futile, as Morocco dominated.
Niger denies Zambia back to back victories
Meanwhile, Zambia’s hopes of picking back to back victories were dented after they were beaten 2-1 away to Niger. The Zambians had started off their campaign with a well worked 4-2 victory over Congo, and had hoped to make it two out of two.
However, Niger who were beaten 1-0 by Tanzania in their opener were determined to bounce back, and they did so with a well worked victory at home.
Niger were off to a positive start, as they sought to get hold of the game early enough. They broke the deadlock after just six minutes when Amadou Moutari shot low into the bottom right corner, in a move he had initiated from deep.
They kept their forward play and doubled their tally after 28 minutes, this time Boubacar Goumey extending a foot from point blank range to direct Issa Djibrilla’s cross into the net.
Zambia were stunned and began to up their game, but couldn’t rescue a goal back before halftime.
They stepped up their efforts in the second half and scored five minutes after the restart when Patson Daka headed home from the edge of the six yard area after the keeper had spilled an initial shot.
Despite increased efforts, the Zambians couldn’t find a way back.
Burkina Faso drown Ethiopia in Jadida
Elsewhere, Burkina Faso remained unbeaten in the qualifiers after edging out Ethiopia 3-0 in a match played at the Stade El Abdi in El Jadida, Morocco.
The victory took Burkina Faso to four points, and third in the group, while Ethiopia are second from bottom with just one point from their opening day draw with Sierra Leone.
Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore was the star of the show, adding on a goal to an earlier assist for Blaty Toure to give Les Stallions the victory.
After a goalless first half, Toure broke the deadlock in the 69th minute when he swept in a low shot from inside the box off a Traore corner.
Traore, who was a second half substitute then doubled the tally from the penalty spot in the 78th minute before Dango Ouattara completed the victory in added time.
Meanwhile, Guinea Bissau moved to second in the group behind leaders Egypt after beating Djibouti 1-0.
Namibia beat Sao Tome, Tunisia edge Malawi
In another tie, Namibia picked up their first victory in the qualifiers after edging out Sao Tome and Principe 2-0 in a match played in Agadir, Morocco.
Namibia had started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea, but they regrouped well to pick victory and move to third in Group H.
A goal in either half from Prins Tjiueza and an own goal by Pedro Leonardo Goncalves Mateus were enough for the Southern Africans to claim victory.
Meanwhile, Tunisia remained top of the Group after edging out Malawi by a slim 1-0 scoreline in Lilongwe. Youssef Msakni’s penalty in the second half handed the Carthage Eagles victory.
Malawi had won their first match against Liberia. The Liberians remain winless in the qualifiers, having suffered a 1-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea, the latter moving joint top of the group with Tunisia.
Emilio Nsue’s ninth minute goal was the difference for the Equatoguineans who ensured they remain unbeaten ahead of the next round of qualifiers in June 2024.