Excluded from the World Cup, Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt seem intent on making amends in the African Cup of Nations.
Cameroon and Nigeria won their second in as many matches and African Cup champion Egypt drew away from home this weekend as all three took control of their respective groups in the continent's biennial nations championship.
Middlesbrough striker Yakubu Alyegbeni converted a Christian Obodo cross to give Nigeria a 1-0 win at Lesotho on Sunday and move it two points atop Group 3. Lesotho remained at the bottom of the group with zero points while Uganda drew 0-0 with Niger to move into second with four points.
Cameroon beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 on Saturday with a pair of second-half goals by Mohammadou Idrissou, putting the Indomitable Lions atop Group 5 with six points. Liberia matched Cameroon on Sunday with its second win, 3-2 over Rwanda. Liberia wasted a two-goal lead in the second half and needed a 78th-minute winner by Dio Williams to prevail.
Although tied on points, Cameroon leads on goal difference having not allowed a goal in two games and outscoring its opponents 6-0.
Only the 12 group winners are guaranteed places in the 2008 finals in Ghana along with the host and three second-place teams.
Egypt drew 0-0 at Botswana on Saturday to move to four points atop Group 2, one point ahead of Mauritania and Burundi. Yamin Selemani scored twice in the first half to lead Burundi over Mauritania 3-1 on Sunday.
Angola, coming off its first World Cup, beat Kenya 3-1 despite the absence of injured captain Figueiredo and veteran left back Yamba Asha. Flavio Amaro scored two goals and Mateus added another to give the Black Antelopes their second win in as many games and put it two points atop Group 6. Eritrea is second with four points after its 0-0 draw at home with Swaziland.
World Cup 2010 host South Africa won its first, 1-0 at Zambia on Aaron Mokeona's 28th-minute goal on Sunday, the Bafana Bafana's first goal of the campaign. With four points, South Africa still trailed the Republic of Congo on goal difference in Group 11.
In other games, it was: Congo 3, Chad 1; Ivory Coast 5, Gabon 0; Tunisia 1, Sudan 0; Seychelles 2, Mauritius 1; Tanzania 0, Mozambique 0; Burkina Faso 1, Senegal 0; Algeria 1, Gambia 0; Cape Verde Islands 1, Guinea 0; Mali 1, Togo 0; Benin 2, Sierra Leone 0; Congo 1, Libya 1; Namibia 1, Ethiopia 0; Malawi 1, Zimbabwe 0.