Ivory Coast, Cameroon win WC qualifiers

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP)

Newly crowned African champion Zambia lost in Sudan in its opening World Cup qualifier, while Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal all began with home wins on Saturday.

Zambia, which beat top-ranked African team Ivory Coast in February's African Cup final, conceded second-half goals to Mohamed Tahir and Saif Masawi in Khartoum to slip to the bottom of Group D alongside Lesotho at the start of Africa's main qualifying competition.

Salomon Kalou scored in the 18th minute for Ivory Coast and Didier Drogba added a second 14 minutes from time for a 2-0 win over Tanzania in Abidjan to top Group C in Sabri Lamouchi's first game in charge. Lamouchi was appointed only last week.

Cameroon, which was still without suspended striker and captain Samuel Eto'o, edged past Congo 1-0 with a 52nd-minute penalty from Germany-based striker Eric Choupo-Moting.

Senegal ignored its recent coaching problems, where Frenchman Pierre Lechantre resigned after two weeks in the job, to beat Liberia 3-1 in Dakar. Senegal fell behind in the second minute and new captain Papiss Cisse then missed a 10th-minute penalty.

But the Senegalese rallied and equalized through Ibrahima Balde in the 32nd, before Dame N'Doye and Sadio Mane added late goals for a pressure-relieving win. Senegal lost all of its games at this year's African Cup of Nations to slump to a first-round exit and end the reign of former coach Amara Traore.

The teams also observed a minute's silence before kickoff for former Senegal forward Jules Francois Bocande, who died last month after surgery in a French hospital.

Algeria beat Rwanda 4-0 with the help of a brace from Soudani El Arabi and Tunisia overcame an early scare to beat Equatorial Guinea, this year's African Cup co-host, in Monastir.

Ruben Epitie put the visitors ahead just after the half-hour. Issam Jomaa and Hamdi Harbaoui replied with goals in five second-half minutes for Tunisia and Chedi Hammami added a third late on.

Burkina Faso drew 0-0 at home with Republic of Congo. Their Group E game in Ouagadougou was briefly stopped by the referee in the first half when powerful winds disrupted play. Cameroon-born Herve Zengue also returned for Burkina Faso after his selection in African Cup qualifiers last year almost cost the team its place at that tournament because of a complaint that he was ineligible. Zengue was dropped from the final Burkinabe squad for the African Cup.

Sierra Leone beat tiny Cape Verde 2-1 through a goal straight from a corner in the 10th minute from defender Mohammed Kamara and a 25th-minute strike from Sheriff Suma. Cape Verde pulled one back four minutes into stoppage time through Marcos Soares but Sierra Leone held out to join Tunisia in the early lead in Group B.


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Gambia under new coach Luciano Mancini had a morale-boosting 1-1 draw at home with Eric Gerets' Morocco, and led for much of the qualifier after Abdou Jammeh's free kick in the 16th. Houssine Kharja rescued a point for the Moroccans in the 76th.

Kenya drew 0-0 with Malawi in a game marked by extra security in Nairobi after recent terrorist attacks in the Kenyan capital and an explosion blamed on a suspected fertilizer bomb last week.

Central African Republic recorded a rare international victory when it beat African Cup qualifier Botswana 2-0 at home in Bangui. Foxi Kethevoama scored twice, early in each half, to take the Central Africans to the top of Group A ahead of South Africa's game against Ethiopia on Sunday.

The 10 group winners advance and five teams will emerge as Africa's representatives at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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