In a thrilling start to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, Hakim Ziyech’s sublime 40-yard drive sealed a 2-0 victory for the Atlas Lions against 10-man Tanzania.
The Moroccan midfielder’s dipping long-range strike on 28 minutes illuminated a dominant display, with an own goal securing the win after the break. Tanzania’s hopes dwindled further when Novatus Miroshi received a second yellow, leaving them with 10 men.
Meanwhile, Ghana and South Africa faced setbacks with surprising defeats. Myziane Maolida’s strike secured a 1-0 win for Comoros against Ghana, echoing their upset at AFCON 2021. South Africa, on the other hand, stumbled to a 2-0 loss to Rwanda, with goals from Innocent Nshuti and Gilbert Mugisha within the first 15 minutes.
In other clashes, Guinea fell 1-0 to Botswana, while Uganda secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Somalia. Burkina Faso dominated Ethiopia with a 3-0 win, courtesy of goals from Dango Ouattara and Bertrand Traore. Tunisia claimed a 1-0 victory in Malawi, thanks to Youssef Msakni’s late penalty.
Zambia suffered a shocking 2-1 loss to Niger in the same group as Avram Grant, the veteran coach in charge of Chipolopolo, tasted his first defeat. The heavyweight clash between Cameroon and Libya ended in an away draw, while Senegal claimed the top spot in Group B despite a goalless stalemate against Togo.
As the World Cup qualifying marathon unfolds, the importance of early points is evident, with only nine direct spots available. The results highlight the unpredictability of the journey, setting the stage for an intense and competitive qualification process.