Holders Ivory Coast claimed their first victory in 2017 African Nations Cup qualifying by beating Sudan 1-0 on Friday while record winners Egypt salvaged a last-gasp 1-1 draw in Nigeria.
Following two goalless Group I stalemates, the Ivorians triumphed in Abidjan with Gervinho scoring in the 34th minute after Salomon Kalou had miscued his initial effort.
It was a far from convincing display from the 2015 winners. They were again without talisman Yaya Toure who was due to return after a year-long break from international football only to suffer a heel injury playing for Manchester City last weekend. Gabon, who will host the finals, beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in the same group with African Footballer of the Year Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converting a penalty and Malick Evouna also on target in Franceville.
Mohamed Salah snatched a late equaliser in Kaduna, set up by a fine pass from teenage substitute Ramadan Sobhi, to keep Egypt two points clear of Nigeria in Group G as they seek a place in the finals after missing the last three tournaments.
Debutant Oghenekaro Etebo handed the hosts the lead on the hour, snapping up a rebound after Kelechi Iheanacho has struck the crossbar.
Victor Moses should have wrapped up the points 10 minutes from time when he rounded the goalkeeper, after being set up by Alex Iwobi, but his effort was scrambled off the line by Egypt's 34-year-old debutant defender Hamada Tolba.
Algeria maintained their 100 percent record in Group J by thrashing Ethiopia 7-1 in Blida.
Guinea, playing in the Ebola-stricken west African country for the first time in 18 months, drew 0-0 with Malawi in Group L where Swaziland remained top after a 1-1 home draw with Zimbabwe.
The home team scored after two minutes through Felix Badenhorst only for Njabulo Ndlovu to put through his own net just before halftime.
Youssef Msakni's 47th-minute goal helped Tunisia beat Togo 1-0 to leapfrog their opponents at the top of Group A on goal difference.
Mali's 1-0 home victory over Equatorial Guinea handed them the lead in Group C after Italian-based defender Molla Wague notched an 82nd-minute winner.
There will be more qualifying matches for January's finals each day until Tuesday.