CAPE TOWN: Islam Slimani scored four goals as African champions Algeria hammered minnows Djibouti 8-0 in their World Cup qualifier in Blida on Thursday (Sep 2) to make a winning start to their bid to reach next year’s finals in Qatar.
Burkina Faso and Benin both won away while Morocco, who were one of the five African countries at the last finals in Russia, posted a 2-0 home triumph over Sudan on Thursday.
There was also a draw away for Uganda at neighbours Kenya and for Congo against Namibia while Tanzania surprised by holding the Democratic Republic of Congo in Lubumbashi.
The four goals for Slimani took his total for his country to 36 as he equalled Abdelhafid Tasfaout’s record for Algeria, who have played in four previous World Cup tournaments.
Rami Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah, Riyad Mahrez and Dutch-born debutant Ramiz Zerrouki also added goals in a one-sided thrashing.
Algeria share Group A of the African qualifiers with Burkina Faso, who beat Niger 2-0 earlier on Thursday.
They had to play the tie in Marrakesh, Morocco because Niger had their home ground declared unsuitable for international football by the Confederation of African Football.
Burkina Faso also suffered the same punishment and host Algeria next on Tuesday in Marrakesh.
Striker Steve Mounie scored the winner for Benin away in Madagascar in Group J, where DR Congo were the fancied team but made a disappointing start under new coach Hector Cuper at home to Tanzania.
Veteran striker Dieumerci Mbokani put them ahead but Tanzania’s Simon Msuva thundered home a first-half equaliser.
Kenya and Uganda ended goalless in Group E Nairobi while Namibia centre back Charles Hambira took centre stage for his country as they hosted Congo in a Group H game in Johannesburg.
Hambira headed home for a 1-0 halftime lead, only to then be credited with an own goal in the second half as he unsuccessfully attempted to clear Guy Mbenza’s shot, hitting it against the upright and into the net.
Morocco were ahead after 10 minutes in Rabat through defender Nayef Agued with Ilias Chair adding a second in the 53rd minute.
There are seven African qualifiers on Friday with heavyweight contenders Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria all getting their campaigns underway.