Ivory Coast on song in World Cup qualifying; Algeria's hopes fade
Ivory Coast made the biggest impression during Saturday's round of African World Cup qualifiers as other fancied sides failed to impress.
The Elephants strode 3-0 past Gabon, who were without their biggest player in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Franceville and now look like near-certainties for elimination, while the Ivorians are odds-on to qualify for Russia.
Coach Marc Wilmots recalled the experienced Salomon Kalou to the side, with Gervinho operating on the other flank in support of Seydou Doumbia and Max Gradel.
After Gradel opened the scoring early in the second half, Gervinho set up two goals for Doumbia in the closing stages to seal the result and move Ivory Coast to seven points, with three rounds remaining.
Zambia kept their dreams of Russia alive with a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over ailing Algeria, who could become the first African giants to be eliminated from the World Cup if Nigeria beat Cameroon in Yaounde on Monday.
Chipolopolo have four points now, five behind the Super Eagles, and could still sneak an unlikely World Cup place if Nigeria fail to press home their advantage in the group.
Senegal, meanwhile, suffered a setback in their qualification campaign after a 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso on home soil in which centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence.
It is a particularly tough pill to swallow after South Africa slipped up in Cape Verde on Friday, meaning the Lions of Teranga had an opportunity to move to the top of Group D.
As things stand, Burkina Faso top the group on five points followed by Senegal and South Africa, both on four points. Cape Verde have three, so there is everything to play for in Group D for all four teams.