Morocco made a winning start to their 2026 World Cup qualifying but several African heavyweights endured humbling results on Tuesday.
Hakim Ziyech scored a sublime 40-yard drive as the Atlas Lions defeated 10-man Tanzania 2-0 on to launch their bid to reach the 2026 World Cup.
However, the likes of Ghana, South Africa and Cameroon dropped points. Ghana and South Africa stumbled to damaging defeats against the Comoros and Rwanda respectively.
Ziyech lit up a dominant Moroccan display by firing home a dipping long-range strike on 28 minutes in Dar es Salaam. An own goal made it 2-0 after the break.
Tanzania’s task was then made harder when Novatus Miroshi saw red for a second yellow midway through the second period.
The Atlas Lions ultimately cruised but Zambia suffered a shock 2-1 loss away to Niger in the same group as veteran coach Avram Grant tasted his first defeat in charge of Chipolopolo.
In a huge upset, Myziane Maolida’s strike condemned Ghana to a 1-0 loss away to the Comoros. It was salty memories for the Black Stars after the tiny nation also beat them at AFCON 2021.
South Africa then crashed 2-0 to lowly Rwanda on a sodden pitch in Butare as the hosts scored twice inside 15 minutes.
Quickfire first-half goals from Innocent Nshuti and Gilbert Mugisha earned the narrow victory as South Africa struggled to adapt.
But Guinea fell 1-0 to Botswana while Uganda edged Somalia by the same scoreline.
Dango Ouattara and Bertrand Traore struck in Burkina Faso’s 3-0 victory away to Ethiopia. Tunisia also won 1-0 in Malawi thanks to Youssef Msakni’s late penalty.
There were also away draws for African giants Cameroon and Senegal against Libya and Togo respectively on a mixed night for the continent’s heavyweights.Senegal moved top of Group B despite the goalless stalemate away in Togo.
With only nine direct World Cup spots available, dropping early points could prove pivotal in a brutal qualifying marathon ahead.