Ghana, Ivory Coast draw comfort from Cup warm-ups
The Black Stars of Ghana forced a 1-1 draw in China and the Elephants of Ivory Coast achieved a similar result in Russia with both African teams displaying strength and stamina to come from behind.
But the Atlas Lions of Morocco went down 2-1 in Rabat against Guinea and the Sparrowhawks of Togo conceded three goals within 10 minutes to fall 3-0 against Burkina Faso in France.
All the African teams will be involved in two-leg Cup of Nations qualifiers during September and October with places at the 2013 tournament in South Africa up for grabs.
Ivory Coast were paired with Senegal in the highlight of the 15 fixtures and recently appointed French coach Sabri Lamouchi must have left Moscow satisfied with the way his team clawed back after conceding an early second-half goal.
Abdul Razack, a 19-year-old debutant from English Premier League champions Manchester City, hit the post before Max Gradel nodded the equaliser after seeing his first attempt rebound off the woodwork.
Africans teams tended to crumble outside the continent in the past when they fell behind, but the Ivorians never panicked and some of their passing left the Russians dizzy.
Ghana prepared for Malawi by travelling to China with a depleted squad that had little time to prepare and after falling behind early in the second half, clawed back and Richmond Boakye-Yiadom equalised.
A surprise decision was coach Kwesi Appiah not using substitute striker Asamoah Gyan, back after ending a self-imposed exile following criticism of his missed penalty in the 2012 Cup of Nations semi-finals defeat by Zambia.
Morocco have failed to spark under multi-trophy winning Belgian coach Eric Gerets and it took a stoppage-time goal from Yassine Salhi to make the result more respectful.
The Atlas Lions went to the last Cup of Nations as one of the favourites only to make a first-round exit and will be grateful that they have modest opponents next month in Mozambique.
Togolese joy at star striker Emmanuel Adebayor ending the latest of several "retirements" by coming on as a second-half substitute was severely diluted when a defensive collapse allowed Abdoulaye Traore claim a hat-trick.
Gabon, co-hosts and quarter-finalists at the 2012 African tournament, face Togo for a ticket to South Africa and the Saint Leu Le Foret result confirmed the Panthers as favourites.
Botswana trailed twice and led once in a 3-3 Gaborone thriller with Tanzania, Tunisia came from behind twice to hold Iran 2-2 in Hungary and a home-based Nigeria team had the better of a 0-0 stalemate in Niger.
African champions Zambia lost 2-1 in South Korea, Egypt conceded a late goal when drawing 1-1 in Oman, hosts Equatorial Guinea edged Liberia 1-0 and Angola scored twice after half-time to defeat visiting Mozambique 2-0 in other games.
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