It took the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition less than 24 hours to claim its first coaching victim with Rabah Saadane quitting after Algeria were held at home by Tanzania.
It was the fifth and surely the last time the silver haired handler will leave the Desert Foxes after surpassing expectations last year by guiding them to the World Cup at the expense of fierce rivals Egypt.
Saadane hinted some time ago that the pressures was getting to him and after watching Algeria come from behind to salvage a 1-1 draw with traditional poor travelers Tanzania on Friday he announced his exit the following day.
Jerry Tegete fired the visitors in front from a free-kick on 32 minutes and after Adlane Guedioura leveled on the stroke of halftime, Algeria applied continuous second-half pressure without reward.
Tanzania were not the only team to spring a surprise with international unknown Jose Luis Mendes scoring 14 minutes from time to give Guinea Bissau a shock 1-0 home victory over Kenya.
The Harambee Stars flew to the tiny Portuguese-speaking West African country confident of securing maximum points having impressed in away warm-ups, holding Tanzania and comfortably disposing of Ethiopia.
Cape Verde Islands have never played at the biennial showcase of African soccer and they got off to a satisfactory start by edging Mali 1-0 in Praia courtesy of a late first-half goal from Fernando Varela.
It was the first competitive match for Mali coach Alain Giresse, the former France midfield ace harshly fired by Gabon after a first-round exit from the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in January.
While a Uganda win at home to Angola was not unexpected, the 3-0 Kampala winning margin on a wet, muddy Mandela Stadium pitch was, as David Obua, Andy Mwesigwa and Geoffrey Sserunkuma scored.
New France-born Angola coach Herve Renard boasted pre-match that his players were “brilliant” and maybe they are, but there were no signs of genius in front of a near-capacity 40,000 crowd in the Ugandan capital.
Other matches delivered predictable results, with Ivory Coast, always among the title favorites, and South Africa winning comfortably at home and World Cup flops Cameroon away.
English Premier League trio Yaya Toure of Manchester City, Salomon Kalou of Chelsea and Emmanuel Eboue of Arsenal scored the goals that saw the Ivorian Elephants trample Rwanda 3-0 in Abidjan.
Early and late first-half goals from strikers Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker earned wasteful South Africa a 2-0 win over Niger in northeast city Nelspruit, where Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar sparkled.
Inter striker Samuel Eto’o scored a brace for the second international in a row as Cameroon triumphed 3-1 over Mauritius to give high-profile Spanish coach Javier Clemente the perfect start to his tenure.
Botswana, surprise pacesetters in the only five-team group, boosted their chances of a first Cup of Nations appearance with a dramatic 2-1 home win over Togo as Jerome Ramatlhakwane snatched a late winner.
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