JOHANNESBURG: Nigeria opened their 2018 World Cup group-phase qualifying campaign with a 2-1 victory in Zambia on Monday thanks to goals from English Premier League duo Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho
The 20-year-old strikers scored in the opening half before a capacity 40,000 crowd at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in central city Ndola that included President Edgar Lungu.
Zambia dominated the second half and veteran striker Collins Mbesuma set up a tense finish by halving the deficit 19 minutes from time.
But an equaliser eluded the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets), who are seeking a first World Cup appearance while the Super Eagles have already been to the finals five times.
The teams are in Group B which also contains three 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Iwobi of Arsenal pounced on a weak headed clearance to slam the ball past goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene from close range on 32 minutes.
Neat one-touch passing set Iheanacho of Manchester City free 10 minutes later and he rounded Mweene before calmly pushing the ball into the net.
A blunder from Nigeria defender Kenneth Omeruo allowed Mbesuma to score by firing past impressive goalkeeper Carl Ikeme from inside the box.
Algeria were surprisingly held 1-1 by Cameroon in Blida, a city 50 kilometres (32 miles) south-west of Algiers where the Desert Foxes have become accustomed to winning by wide margins.
El Arbi Hillel Soudani gave the hosts a perfect start by tapping the ball into the net on seven minutes after a corner.
But good teamwork allowed Benjamin Moukandjo to level midway through the opening half and the result leaves Algeria and Cameroon two points adrift of Nigeria.
Just a few hours after the Nigerians became the first away winners in the African group phase, Egypt matched the achievement by defeating Congo 2-1 in Brazzaville.
Ferebory Dore beat 43-year-old goalkeeper Essam El Hadary with a far-post header to give the home side a first-half lead.
Mohamed Salah from Italian Serie A outfit Roma headed the equaliser just before half-time, then set up the winner for Abdallah Saied close to the hour mark.
Egypt, whose last of two World Cup appearances was 26 years ago, top Group E with three points, Ghana and Uganda have one each and Congo none.
Tunisia share the Group A lead with the Democratic Republic of Congo on three points after second-half goals produced a 2-0 win over Guinea in Monastir.
Valencia defender Aymen Abdennour broke the deadlock on 58 minutes by nodding in a corner and Anis Ben Hatira came off the bench to score his first international goal.
Libya reacted to a 4-0 thrashing from DR Congo in Kinshasa by firing Spanish coach Javier Clemente a month before his contract was due to expire.