African champions Senegal began their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-0 victory at home to South Sudan on Saturday as South Africa and Tanzania also opened with wins. The Teranga Lions set off at a blistering pace in their Group B fixture with Tottenham midfielder Pape Matar Sarr scoring after 40 seconds.
Sadio Mane scored Senegal’s second just four minutes later on a night when he made his 100th appearance for his country. Debutant Lamine Camara added a third for the hosts. The 19-year-old scored on the stroke of half-time and after the break the former Liverpool forward scored again – this time from the penalty spot.
With Senegal set to play Togo in Lome on Tuesday in their second qualifier, coach Aliou Cisse made a raft of changes just after the hour mark with Mane and Sarr amongst those substituted.
On a tough night for South Sudan’s Bright Stars, Senegal had a late goal from Habib Diallo ruled out for offside. Senegal are top of the Group B standings, ahead of DR Congo on goal difference after the opening round of matches.
Elsewhere, Tanzania enjoyed a 1-0 victory in an away fixture against Niger in neutral Marrakesh at the start of their Group E campaign. Australia-based striker Charles M’Mombwa scored for the Taifa Stars in the second half, on his debut for his country.
South Africa off to winning start
South Africa began Saturday’s World Cup qualifying action across Africa with a 2-1 win over Benin in Durban in Group C. Al Ahly forward Percy Tau gave Bafana Bafana the perfect start. The former Brighton player struck in just the second minute to give his country a 1-0 lead.
Khuliso Mudau doubled the hosts’ lead on the stroke of half-time. Steve Mounie clawed one back for Benin in the 70th minute to make it a nervy end for the home fans, as South Africa held on to secure the victory. South Africa are early leaders of Group C, a group which also includes Nigeria.
The Super Eagles, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Lesotho on Thursday, will be under pressure to get a win when they face Zimbabwe in Rwanda on Sunday in their second Group C qualifier.
Zimbabwe, like Niger, are among the 17 African nations who have been forced to play their home qualifiers at neutral grounds, either because they lack international-standard stadiums or for safety reasons.
Elsewhere, in round two of qualifying on Sunday, Burundi face Gabon, Algeria are away to Mozambique, Egypt have an away match against Sierra Leone and Sudan take on DR Congo.
Africa has a guaranteed nine qualifiers for the 2026 finals in Canada, Mexico and the United States, with all group winners booking a spot at the tournament.