Angola and Nigeria are well placed to reach the last round of the qualifiers of the 2013 Orange African Youth Championships after convincing wins during the weekend matches.
Nigeria, the defending champions and Angola were the only teams that recorded away wins during the first leg matches of the second round qualifier. The Flying Eagles managed a 2-1 win in Dar es Salaam, after taking a two goal lead at half time.
Leading marksman in the Nigerian Premier League, Alhadji Gero of Enugu Rangers fame scored both goals for Nigeria. The Ngorongoro Heroes reacted in the second half, pulling one goal back through Atupele Green, which according to their Danish coach, Jakob Michelsen, gives them hopes of qualification.
Angola also triumphed by a lone goal at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare with Mateus Domingo scoring the only goal of the match on 65 minutes.
Despite the victory, Angola coach Andre Nzunzi insists the tie is far from over and has cautioned his charges ahead of the return encounter.
"This is the first leg and we will have the second leg. This is not enough for us and we will continue to work harder and harder. We believe Zimbabwe have a strong team," Nzunzi was quoted by Zimbabwean daily, Herald.
Elsewhere in Conakry, Guinea saw off Burkina Faso 2-1 in a closely fought game. Sekou Keita and Pepe Guilavogui scored for the Guineans in each half before Alasane Nikiema grabbed a consolation for the visitors in the dying embers.
The Junior Wasps of Rwanda also dismissed their Malian counterparts 2-1 in Kigali. The visitors went up on 22 minutes through Samba Diallo before Emmanuel Sebanani restored parity on 75 minutes. On the stroke of full time, Patrick Umwungeli headed home the winner to send crowd at the Stade de Kigali into a partying mood.
The Hippos of Uganda pulled up one of the shocking results of the weekend qualifiers coming from behind to beat the Black Satellites of Ghana 3-1. Interestingly, it was the visiting Black Satellites who shot into the lead after just five minutes through midfielder Michael Anaba before Julius Ogwang drew level three minutes later.
Few minutes later, Joseph Mpande fired the hosts into the lead for the first time in the game, capitalising on a blunder by the Ghanaian rear before Ogwang scored his second of the game just before half time after Gift Ali had put him through.
Congo accounted for South Africa 2-1 in Brazzaville after going down to Thabani Mthembu opener on eight minutes. Just before half time, Percy Durrel Akoli drew parity from the spot before Constantine Bakaki scored the winner on 55 minutes.
In Tunis, a spectacular second half performance by Gabon saw them come from two goals down to hold Tunisia to a 2-2 draw whilst Niger edged out Senegal 3-2 in Niamey.
In Kinshasa, DR Congo beat the Mauritius 3-0 with Mukenga Mukendi and Bukasa Bakangi hitting target as the Congolese chase their first ever appearance at the biennial championship since its inception in 1999.
Elsewhere, Sierra Leone were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Cameroon in Freetown where as Egypt and Kenya played out a barren game in Cairo.
The biggest winners were Morocco, who thumped Gambia 4-0 in Casablanca. A brace each from Omar Ati Allah and Reda Ennoualy ensured a convincing victory for the Junior Atlas Lions.
The second leg matches will take place on the weekend of 10-12 August with the winners advancing to the first round.
Meanwhile, the Benin - Cote d'Ivoire fixture has been fixed for August 5.
Morocco 4-0 Gambia
Uganda 3-1 Ghana
Congo 2-1 South Africa
DR Congo 3-1 Mauritius
Sierra Leone 1-1 Cameroon
Tanzania 1-2 Nigeria
Guinea 2-1 Burkina Faso
Tunisia 2-2 Gabon
Niger 3-2 Senegal
Zimbabwe 0-1 Angola
Egypt 0-0 Kenya