- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Morocco, Guinea and Congo all won their first-leg games in World Cup qualifying on Thursday, while there were upsets as Uganda won in Togo and Benin beat Burkina Faso.

Africa’s biggest teams are entering the competition in the second round, where 40 teams are vying for a place in a final group stage. Africa’s five qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia will emerge from that group stage.

Morocco beat Equatorial Guinea 2-0 at home in Agadir despite losing defender Adil Karrouchi to a red card early in the second half. Youssef El Arabi hit the opener from close range in the first half and Yacine Bammou scored in the 66th, after Karrouchi’s straight red card. Morocco heads to Bata for Sunday’s second leg.

Guinea won 1-0 in Namibia with forward Naby Keita’s 27th-minute goal. Guinea also survived with 10 men for the last 40 minutes after Bamba Fousseni was sent off following a second yellow card. Guinea is a strong favorite to progress with its home leg to come.

Uganda took some revenge after losing twice to Togo in qualifying for this year’s African Cup of Nations, winning 1-0 away in Lome on Thursday. Farouk Miya scored in the 39th-minute with a curling shot. Togo’s Mathieu Dossevi had a penalty saved in the second half.

Emmanuel Adebayor didn’t play for Togo after being dropped by coach Tom Saintfiet for failing to turn up for an African Cup qualifier in September. There were calls from fans for the striker and goalkeeper Agassa Kossi to be selected for the return leg in Kampala.

Benin won 2-1 in a big upset over 2013 African Cup finalist Burkina Faso, with a winner six minutes from the end by Babatounde Bello.

Congo’s Ndombe Mubele scored twice in the last five minutes after coming on as a substitute to steal a 3-2 win over Burundi. Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie had Congo ahead in the fifth minute.

Burundi surged back and Cedric Amissi’s double put the home team in front 2-1 with seven minutes to go. Mubele turned the game again when he equalized in the 86th with a smooth finish from just inside the penalty area. His winner came two minutes later.

The tie went ahead at the Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura despite a spate of recent killings in the capital that witnesses say are part of a government crackdown on supporters of the Burundi opposition. There was an attempted coup in Burundi in May.

On Wednesday, former African champion Zambia won 1-0 in Sudan to kick off the second round of qualifying. Also, Mozambique beat Gabon 1-0 in another surprising result.

Current African champion Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon all open their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaigns on Friday.


AP writers Blame Ekoue in Lome, Togo, and Andrew Jackson Oryada in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.

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