The headline result from the afternoon was a 1-1 draw in the East African derby between Burundi and Tanzania in Bujumbura, with late goals from Cedric Amissi and Simon Msuva, while the night game featured another derby rivalry as Liberia got the better of fellow West Africans Sierra Leone 3-1 in Paynesville.
Goals from Terrence Tisdell, Mohammed Sangare and Sam Johnson ensured it was not a good return to international football for Sierra Leone, who have only recently seen their Fifa ban lifted.
Namibia started out on the right foot in the group stage after they won 2-1 away to Eritrea – with a goal from Highlands Park striker Peter Shaulile – while Lesotho claimed a fine result by holding Ethiopia 0-0 away in Bahir Dar.
Equatorial Guinea hold the edge in their tie against South Sudan after a 1-1 away draw, and Mozambique defeated Mauritius 1-0 in Belle Vue thanks to an early goal from Telinho.
Eswatini (in their first major qualification bid since changing their name from Swaziland) lost 2-1 to Djibouti, but remain very much alive in the tie thanks to their away goal, while Guinea-Bissau edged Sao Tome and Principe 1-0 away from home with a late penalty from Nanu.
The remainder of the first leg matches will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before the return legs are held on 8 and 10 September.
African World Cup qualifying results, Wednesday 4 September
Burundi 1-1 Tanzania
Eritrea 1-2 Namibia
Ethiopia 0-0 Lesotho
South Sudan 1-1 Equatorial Guinea
Mauritius 0-1 Mozambique
Djibouti 2-1 Eswatini
Sao Tome and Principe 0-1 Guinea-Bissau
Liberia 3-1 Sierra Leone
Source – SuperSport