Morocco began their bid for a fifth World Cup finals appearance with a 2-0 home win over Equatorial Guinea on Thursday despite having defender Adil Karrouchy sent off early in the second half.
10-man Morocco begin bid with home victory
Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor, without a club since Tottenham Hotspur cancelled his contract, watched from the stands as his country struggled to create chances.
Youssef Al Arabi’s fired the hosts into a first-half lead and although Karrouchy was dismissed on 47 minutes, a strike midway through the second half from substitute Yacine Bammou handed the north Africans, who were last at the finals in France in 1998, a lead to take into their second round, second leg tie on Sunday.
Thursday’s first-leg matches also produced away victories for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Uganda while Benin secured a 2-1 home win over Burkina Faso.
Firmin Ndombe scored two goals in the closing minutes to see the Congolese to a 3-2 away win over neighbouring Burundi on a waterlogged pitch in Bujumbura.
A deflected own goal from Togo captain Serge Akakpo handed Uganda a rare away triumph as they won 1-0 in Lome with the return match at home to come on Sunday.
Naby Keita scored in the 26th minute for Guinea to win in Namibia while Babatunde Bello’s late penalty saw Benin to a slender victory over the more fancied Burkinabe.
More second round, first leg matches are scheduled on Friday including a start on the road to Russia for Nigeria, who reached the second round in Brazil last year, away at tiny Swaziland.
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