Cote d’Ivoire made an emphatic start to their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign, delivering a dominant performance by thrashing Seychelles 9-0 on Friday.
In Group F, teenage sensation Karim Konate scored twice, while Hamed Traore, who came off the bench, also contributed with two goals. Despite Seychelles goalkeeper Carlos Simoen’s commendable efforts in making several excellent saves, the match was a one-sided affair.
This resounding victory serves as a significant morale boost for Cote d’Ivoire as they prepare to host the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations in January. The convincing display positions them as serious contenders for a spot in the expanded 2026 World Cup in North America.
However, other African football powerhouses faced more challenging battles in their opening qualifiers. Cameroon, favorites in their matchup against Mauritius, held a slim 1-0 lead at halftime before securing a 3-0 victory late in the game.
Similarly, Ghana struggled to break down Madagascar’s defense, finally finding the net in the 96th minute through Inaki Williams.
Tunisia had a subdued victory, winning 4-0 against Sao Tome and Principe, while Mali and Zambia claimed solid home victories over Chad and Congo, respectively.
In Group I, the Comoros Islands and the Central African Republic engaged in an entertaining encounter, with the former emerging victorious 4-2. Meanwhile, Malawi upset Liberia 1-0 away, thanks to substitute Chifundo Mphasi’s decisive goal.
With only nine direct World Cup spots available, along with one inter-confederation playoff place, Africa’s top teams understand the importance of consistency as the qualifying rounds progress. The first round of matches in the African zone will conclude with three more qualifiers on Saturday, spanning across the nine groups.
As teams vie for qualification, the four best runners-up will have an additional opportunity to secure a spot in the 2026 finals through a two-tier playoff system.
The road to the World Cup promises to be fiercely competitive in the African continent.