Salah’s performance ensured a 6-0 win for Egypt in their opening Group ‘A’ match with the striker grabbing the first four goals and increasing his overall tally for Egypt to 53 in 93 appearances as they look for a place at the 2026 finals, having missed out on 2022 World Cup.
After reaching the 200-goal mark in English football last Sunday, Salah netted twice in each half in Cairo. Mostafa Mohamed and Trezeguet also scored.
Nigeria, without injured Victor Osimhen, were held to a 1-1 draw at a rainy Uyo by the small mountain kingdom of Lesotho, who are 113 places below them in FIFA rankings.
Defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi put Lesotho into a shock lead after 56 minutes of the Group ‘C’ encounter and they kept their advantage for 11 minutes before centre-back Semi Ajayi headed home the equaliser from Kelechi Iheanacho’s corner.
But despite pressure on the visitors’ goal for the remainder of the game, Nigeria could not fashion a winner and the result will put pressure on coach Jose Peserio, just two months out from their participation at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Aided by a second-minute own goal in Algiers, Algeria beat lowly ranked Somalia 3-1 in Group ‘G’.
After a low cross struck Ahmed Abdi and entered the Somali net, Baghdad Bounedjah doubled the lead before half-time.
Yusuf Ahmed halved the deficit midway through the second half and Algeria had to wait until 10 minutes from time before restoring a two-goal lead through Islam Slimani.
Mozambique claimed the first away victory of the African qualifying campaign, beating Botswana 3-2 in that group with Jonathan Muiomo scoring the winner.
Kenya, back in international football after a FIFA ban for political interference prevented them playing in 2024 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, lost 2-1 away to Gabon in Group ‘F’.
Masoud Juma put Kenya ahead just before half-time in Franceville, Denis Bouanga levelled on the hour mark and Guelor Kanga snatched an 88th-minute winner for the hosts.
Burundi also won in Group ‘F’, edging the Gambia 3-2 in their match played in Tanzania because of Burundi’s lack of a suitable stadium.
Sudan were forced to host their Group ‘B’ clash against Togo in Benghazi, Libya because of the civil war in their country and although they went ahead through an early penalty saw Togo equalise through Belgian-based Kevin Denkey for a 1-1 draw.
Missed chances were the order of the day in the Group ‘D’ clash between the Cape Verde Islands and Angola, that ended goalless.