CAPE TOWN. South Africa (AP)Kelechi Iheanacho’s two goals gave Nigeria a winning start Friday in its bid to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.
Nigeria beat Liberia 2-0 thanks to Iheanacho’s first-half double, and fellow former African champions Tunisia, Cameroon and Ghana also won on a day the heavyweights avoided any major upsets.
Only Ivory Coast came away disappointed with its start to World Cup qualifying after a 0-0 draw in Mozambique despite controlling that game.
Iheanacho put Nigeria ahead in the 22nd minute in Lagos with a left-foot shot from the far right of the penalty area that took Liberia goalkeeper Ashley Williams by surprise and beat him at the near post. Iheanacho’s second just before halftime was the result of some subtle footwork as a header dropped to him and he controlled the ball with his left foot, and swiveled and scored with his right.
Tunisia scored all its goals in the second half and Wahbi Khazri’s 82nd-minute penalty rounded off a 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea.
Cameroon was comfortable in a 2-0 win at home over Malawi, with early goals from Vincent Aboubakar and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui. That gave Cameroon the advantage over Group D rival Ivory Coast.
The Ivorians created several clear-cut chances in Mozambique and came closest when Max Gradel’s long-range free kick was punched over by Emanue Siluane, who smiled broadly after pulling off his save. Ivory Coast just couldn’t get past him.
Ghana wasn’t at its best against Ethiopia but Mubarak Wakaso’s goal in the 35th was enough to secure a 1-0 win.
”The Ethiopians did well and if we had lost it would have been a disaster,” Ghana coach Charles Akonnor said.
Ghana leads Group G ahead of South Africa and Zimbabwe, who drew 0-0 in Harare as coach Hugo Broos couldn’t conjure up a winning start to his time as coach of South Africa.
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