Former World Cup quarter-finalists Cameroon and Senegal achieved morale-boosting friendly victories this weekend ahead of 2014 qualifiers during June.
An early goal from newcomer Moussa Konate earned the Senegalese Teranga Lions a 1-0 win over Morocco in Marrakech while an Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting brace gave Cameroon a 2-1 victory against Guinea near French city Metz.
Algeria triumphed 3-0 at home to Niger, Sierra Leone suffered a 4-0 drubbing in Jordan, Burkina Faso and Benin drew 2-2 and the clashes between Mozambique and Namibia in Germany and Tanzania and Malawi in Dar es Salaam ended goalless.
The second phase of World Cup qualifying in Africa kicks off on June 1 with another round a week later followed by 2013 Africa Cup of Nations eliminators in mid-June.
Cameroon are among the countries facing games on three consecutive weekends with World Cup clashes against the Democratic Republic of Congo and Libya preceding a Cup of Nations engagement with Guinea-Bissau.
The Indomitable Lions in 1990 became the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals and the Roger Milla-inspired team took England to extra time before bowing out. But the national team has slipped considerably since to lie only 13 on the Africa rankings while star striker Samuel Eto'o is barred until September. Germany-based Choupo-Moting put the Lions ahead on 10 minutes in Amanvilliers and scored the decisive goal from a penalty before half-time after Sadio Diallo equalised.
Recently appointed French coach Denis Lavagne can draw comfort from the result after Cameroon flopped at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and failed to qualify for the Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea this year. Senegal did make the African tournament last January only to suffer three defeats, coach Amara Traore was axed and replacement Pierre Lechantre did a u-turn when some his demands were rejected.
Local Joseph Koto was appointed caretaker coach and did his chances of securing the post permanently no harm with a win in Morocco via an 11th-minute strike from Israel-based Konate. Burkina Faso and Benin produced plenty of excitement in Ouagadougou with Stallion Prejuce Nacoulma opening and closing the scoring while David Djigla and Michael Pote were on target for the Beninoise Squirrels. A William Ngonou own goal on 34 minutes set shock 2012 Cup of Nations qualifiers Niger on the road to defeat in Blida where Rafik Djebbour and Hilal Soudani netted for dominant Algeria.