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Africa Cup of Nations qualifying: Five big observations

Less than four months after Algeria defeated Senegal to clinch the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title, qualifying for the 2021 edition has begun, with a series of fascinating fixtures across the continent during the international break.

There were shocks aplenty, several fine performances, and a handful of individuals who stood out above the rest. Here are Ed Dove's five big observations from the opening two rounds of Afcon qualifying.

Afcon champions remain the team to beat

Six teams took the maximum...

Africa Cup of Nations: Ethiopia stun Ivory Coast, Madagascar bag record win

Ethiopia caused the first real shock of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they came from behind to stun the Ivory Coast with a 2-1 victory in their Group K clash in Bahir Dar on Tuesday.

Serge Aurier gave the Ivorians an early lead when he knocked in a rebound after Max Gradel's free kick had been parried into his path by home goalkeeper Abel Mamo.

Yet Ethiopia were level on 16 minutes as Surafel Dagnachew's free kick was deflected in off the wall, before Shemeles Bekele shrugged off...

Salah-less Egypt held to draw by minnows Comoros in AFCON qualifying

Egypt were held to a scoreless draw by tiny Comoros Islands.

Egypt, without injured striker Mohamed Salah, lacked a cutting edge in front of goal as they were held to a 0-0 draw by tiny Comoros Islands in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Monday.

Midfielder Kahraba struck the crossbar early on and forward Trezeguet missed a one-on-one chance in the second period, but Egypt also had goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy to thank for important saves.

The result follows a 1-1 home draw with Kenya in their Group G opener on Thursday and was wildly celebrated...

Victor Osimhen one-man wrecking ball for Nigeria Super Eagles in Afcon qualifying

Not since Obafemi Martins' emergence in 2003 have Nigerians been so jazzed up about a starting striker to lead the Super Eagles.

Unlike Martins, who took some convincing before he left the comfort of Inter Milan and the San Siro in Italy to suit up for Nigeria, Victor Osimhen developed through the cadet ranks with not even the slightest doubt about whether or not he would pick up the mantle.

Osimhen has been hailed the new great hope of Nigerian football since scoring 10 goals in nine games for...

AFCON qualifiers: Nigeria wins, South Africa rebound over Sudan

Nigeria easily handled Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations group qualifying.

Nigeria's in-form forward Victor Osimhen struck twice as they came from a goal down to beat minnows Lesotho 4-2 in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Group L qualifier in Maseru on Sunday.

The west Africans fell behind to an early strike from Masoabi Nkoto, but led by the break as Alex Iwobi equalised and Samuel Chukwueze put them in front.

Osimhen had looked the most dangerous player on the pitch and was rewarded with a second-half brace as Nigeria claimed a full haul of six points from their opening...