Visitors Uganda, playing in white, kick off their inaugural Group J tie in Angola, with the Palancas Negras wearing their traditional red shirts and black shorts. Both sides are bidding to emulate group rivals Senegal, who opened their campaign with a 3-1 home win over Liberia on Saturday.
So as the dust settles on the day’s opening two games, these are the group standings after the first round of matches.
Central African Republic 3 pts
Ethiopia 1 pt
South Africa 1
Egypt 3 pts
FULL-TIMESouth Africa 1-1 Ethiopia
South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane probably doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. His team salvaged a point from their home game against Ethiopia but this is unlikely to satisfy the army of critics on his back. It means that Bafana Bafana have still failed to win a match since August 2011 – a run that now includes nine draws and one defeat in their last 10 games. Ethiopia opened the scoring through Said Saladin in the first half, before Katlego Mphela grabbed a late equaliser.
A massive match for South Africa now awaits in Gaborone next week as they take on neighbours and southern African rivals Botswana, who lost 2-0 in Central African Republic on Saturday.
FULL-TIMEZimbabwe 0-1 Guinea
It’s all over in Harare and Guinea have held on to take the three points. The Syli Nationale rode their luck at times but have emerged unscathed thanks to Ibrahima Traore’s first-half free-kick and some resilient second-half defending. Zimbabwe dominated the game, but did not take the chances that came their way.
Goalscorer Mphela has an opportunity to win the match in Rustenburg – but blasts his free-kick straight into the wall. Is that Bafana’s last chance of the game?
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has named his line-up for the game against Namibia in Calabar.
Vincent Enyeama; Godfrey Oboabona, Juwon Oshaniwa, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Efe Ambrose; Fengor Ogude, Victor Moses, Ejike Uzoenyi; John Utaka, Ike Uche.
Five minutes left in Harare, where Zimbabwe still trail Guinea by a goal to nil but are piling men forward. In South Africa, Bafana Bafana are being held by Ethiopia.
Teko Modise, who has made a big impact since coming on, has a chance to wrap up a dramatic turnaround for South Africa but takes a touch too many. Chance wasted.
Five minutes to go in Harare and Guinea still hold on to a 1-0 lead. The BBC’s Steve Vickers says the visitors have defended throughout the second half and that Zimbabwe will rue missing chance after chance if the result stays as it is.
Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer makes a change as Ismael Bangoura comes on for fellow striker Razzagui Camara. A quarter of an hour for the Syli Nationale to hold on, as Zimbabwe continue to fire everything at the Guinea goal.
Just seconds after Mphela’s equaliser, South Africa captain Steven Pienaar fires over from a good position.
GOALSouth Africa 1-1 Ethiopia
Massive goal for Bafana Bafana as Katlego Mphela finds the back of the net and relieves a slice of pressure on Mosimane.
Mosimane takes a gamble as he brings on attacking midfielder Teko Modise for the more defensively-minded Khuboni.
Into the 70th minute in Rustenburg, and Ethiopia are still holding to a 1-0 lead with South Africa creating few options in search of an equaliser. The recalled Nomvethe has not made the impact Mosimane would have wanted from a man who played in the 2002 World Cup – can he deliver a precious goal in the remaining time available?
The Zimbabwe fans have turned against coach Rahman Gumbo and are shouting “Mapeza”, calling for the return of former national coach Norman Mapeza. The latter is currently suspended as he undergoes an ongoing investigation into match-fixing.
Despite the need for South Africa to draw level, it’s Ethiopia who go close again – as goalscorer Saladin fires in another effort. This one fails to hit the target but he has impressed today. Time is running out for Bafana Bafana – and coach Mosimane.
Big Zimbabwe hitman Takesure Chinyama is replaced by South Africa-based Terrence Mandaza. There’s a long stoppage as Naby Yattara is down and receiving attention after that spectacular save.
“Unbelievable,” says the BBC’s Steve Vickers inside Harare’s National Stadium – simply because Knowledge Musona has missed another fine chance. Face-to-face with Guinea keeper Naby Yattara in the box, Musona strikes hard but Yattara makes a brilliant save and Guinea hang on.
Both teams are out on the pitch for the usual warm-up in Angola. As expected, the Palancas Negras had a big standing ovation from the crowd that started coming in a few hours ago. With over half an hour to go, Silvio Capuepue says close 20,000 people ae already inside the 50,000-capacity stadium.
Ethiopia win their second corner of the match but it comes to nothing as their effort on the South African goal goes wide.
Musona continues to knock on the door but his luck is currently out. Although he has the ball in the back of the net, his effort is ruled offside. Frustrating times for the Warriors.
Zimbabwe come close once again as a Knowledge Musona header is headed off the line by Guinea right-back Ibrahima Diallo. Guinea still lead as the game approaches the hourmark.
Some early team news from the forthcoming Group J game in Luanda, where Angola host Uganda in around 45 minutes.
Angola line-up is Neblu; Bastos, Dany Massunguna, Lunguinha, Amaro; Mano, Mano, Mingo Bille, Djalma Campos; Manucho Gonçalves and Mateus Galiano
Silvio Capuepue, who is watching today’s game for the BBC, says the line-up is a clear sign of the rejuvenation process that the team is undergoing, with the only notable players from the past being Manucho of Valladolid and Mateus Galiano from Nacional da Madeira in Portugal.
The second half is also underway in Harare, where Zimbabwe enjoy two swift chances. Knowledge Musona’s cross flashed right across the face of goal with no takers. Then Willard Katsande powers a shot from 30 yards just over the bar.
South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane has made his second change of the game, bringing on Oupa Manyisa for Yeye Letsholonyane. Shortly after Ethiopia’s goal, Mosimane made his first switch, taking off Tsepo Masilela and bringing on Punch Masenamela.
Back underway in South Africa, where the hosts trail Ethiopia by a goal to nil. Should it stay this way, Central African Republic would top Group A after the first round of matches, with Ethiopia second – and South Africa and Botswana bringing up the rear.
1347: HALF-TIMEZimbabwe 0-1 Guinea
So Guinea have the upper hand in a first half where Zimbabwe had most of the chances but Ibrahima Traore buried the free-kick for the goal that separates the sides. It’s been a physical contest, with four yellow cards. Guinea are looking organised and physically imposing, and Zimbabwe must find a way to get closer to the goal.
1346: HALF-TIME South Africa 0-1 Ethiopia
South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane has a big 15 minutes coming up. The man who took charge of Bafana Bafana after the 2010 World Cup is under intense pressure in his homeland, following his failure to lead South Africa to this year’s Nations Cup – all after that embarrassing blunder against Sierra Leone – and his inability to win a match since last August. He needs to find a dramatic turn-around in fortunes if he can be confident of holding onto his job.
1345: Ethiopia go close to grabbing a second when Said Saladin – who opened the scoring – hits the side-netting for the visitors in Rustenburg. South Africa swiftly move up the other end but fail to trouble Sesay Basa in the Ethiopian goal.
Ethiopia’s fans are in good voice in Rustenburg, cheering every touch from their team – who still lead 1-0 as half-time approaches. Not a scoreline many were expecting as the break approaches and Mosimane is faced by a familiar problem – how to find goals from a South African side.
1339: Free-kick to South Africa in a dangerous position. Bafana Bafana go up in numbers as Ethiopia prepare a three-man wall. Katlego Mphela steps up but his strike is poor and deflects off for a throw-in.
The fans have gone quiet in Harare with visitors Guinea giving Zimbabwe little space. Warriors coach Rahman Gumbo has made a change in midfield as Willard Katsande comes on for Archford Gutu.
1332: GOALSouth Africa 0-1 Ethiopia
Bafana Bafana are stunned as Ethiopia take the lead, with Said Saladin opening the scoring. This will increase the pressure on coach Pitso Mosimane, who has not won a match in charge of South Africa since August 2011.
1327: Zimbabwe have a chance to equalise straight away, with Knowledge Musona breaking clear, but the Germany-based striker puts his effort over the bar from the edge of the box. A bright response from the Warriors seconds after going a goal behind.
1325: GOALZimbabwe 0-1 Guinea
A great goal by the visitors in Harare, as Ibrahima Traore fires a free-kick from the edge of the box into the top-right corner, eluding a six-man Zimbabwe wall. Traore, who was so impressive during the Nations Cup, continues his good run of international form.
1424: No goals in Harare midway through the first half, with Zimbabwe having the better of the play against a Guinea side who contested this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Syli Nationale scored six goals at the finals, don’t forget, as they thumped Botswana 6-1 but they were unable to progress in large part due to their opening Group D defeat to Mali.
1313: South Africa started with a 4-4-2 formation but have changed to 4-2-3-1, with Siyabonga Nomvethe playing wide.
1308: Great chance for Zimbabwe as Takesure Chinyama connects with a Khama Billiat cross from six yards, but a great save from Guinea keeper Naby Yattara. Inside the National Sports Stadium, the BBC’s Steve Vickers recalls that Zimbabwe coach Rahman Gumbo had his career ended when playing for Zimbabwe against Guinea at this same venue in a World Cup qualifier in 1993. That day, he suffered a broken leg in a 1-0 Zimbabwe win. More recently, the teams drew 0-0 home and away in 2010 World Cup qualifying.
South Africa get their Group A match at home to Ethiopia underway in Rustenburg, seven minutes later than planned.
1303: South Africa are set to kick off against Ethiopia in Rustenburg – with Steven Pienaar captaining the side. Veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe starts the game alongside fellow forward Katlego Mphela, while centre back Siyabonga Sangweni starts on the bench following a slight injury – meaning Bongani Khumalo (starting a Bafana Bafana match for the first time in a while) and Morgan Gould play the central defensive role. Teko Modise must also start as a substitute.
Underway at the National Sports Stadium in Harare where Zimbabwe are hosting Guinea in Group G. There’s an optimistic crowd of almost 40,000 – a Mexican wave was going around the stadium before kick-off. Zimbabwe are starting with two of their players recently cleared of match-fixing – Khama Billiat and Ovidy Karuru. Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer has dropped the club-less Pascal Feindouno, while Bobo Balde is out with an injury.
1250: So we’re all set once more for another day of drama in Africa’s qualifying race to the 2014 World Cup. After African champions Zambia were picked apart by Sudan on Saturday, a day when Central African Republic won their first World Cup qualifier in history, another 14 teams take to the pitch today.
And this is what is coming up (all times in GMT):
1300 South Africa v Ethiopia (Group A)
1300 Zimbabwe v Guinea (Group G)
1500 Angola v Uganda (Group J)
1500 Benin v Mali (Group H)
1500 Niger v Gabon (Group E)
1500 Nigeria v Namibia (Group F)
1530 Togo v Libya (Group I)
Stay with us for the next 5-6 hours as we will bring you the very latest from the seven games across the continent.