Cameroon took an early lead in a crunch Group D when beating Malawi 2-0 at home as rivals Ivory Coast were held goalless in Mozambique in Friday’s African World Cup qualifiers.
A confident Vincent Aboubakar finish and Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui header gave the 1990 quarter-finalists a decisive win in Yaounde and good start to a group from which only one team will reach March’s play-offs.
Seeking to extend their African record seven World Cup appearances, the Indomitable Lions clash with the Elephants in Abidjan on Monday in one of the ties of African qualifying.
Earlier on Friday, an Ivorian team bidding for a fourth World Cup had been restricted to a low-key draw in Mozambique as both sides kicked off a tantalising group.
Chances were few and far between in the Mozambican capital Maputo as the visitors – missing Premier League players Eric Bailly, Serge Aurier and Willy Boly – struggled to break down resolute hosts who fashioned few chances.
Mozambique is on the British government’s Covid red list, meaning that any player entering the United Kingdom would need to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to their clubs, which many refused to countenance.
Prior to the game, Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle said he had lost patience with a process which both the Confederation of African Football and Fifa tried to overturn in vain appeals to the British government.