Three-time winners Angola got their COSAFA Cup Group A campaign off to a positive start with a 3-1 victory over Comoros at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban on Tuesday.
Palancas Negras were too strong for their island opponents, with their victory following an earlier 1-0 success for Botswana over Seychelles in the same pool.
It was a thrilling start to the competition, which makes a return to Durban for the first time since 2019, with fans in the stands to enjoy the football.
Angola took the lead on 39 games after a superb free-kick from Megue as he beat the Comoros wall and nestled the ball into the top corner of the net.
It was 2-0 five minutes into the second period when the Angolans were handed a penalty and Lepua had no trouble converting from 12-yards.
Angola then got a third when a poor defensive header allowed substitute Higino to poke the ball into the net with 15 minutes remaining, but within 60 seconds Comoros had pulled one back as Ali Nassim shot low into the net after beating the offside trap.
Angola were able to comfortably see out the match and confirm their pre-tournament status as one of the teams to watch.
Botswana were finalists the last time the competition was staged in Durban, losing to Zambia in the decider. They got their campaign off to a winning start with a narrow 1-0 success over Seychelles.
Thato Kebue headed The Zebras into the lead four minutes into the second half, which was enough for the three points. Seychelles have still only won a single COSAFA Cup game in what is now 29 attempts.
Group B will get under way on Wednesday with a clash between Mauritius and last year’s bronze medallists Eswatini (kick-off 14h00 CAT).
It will be important for both sides to get off to a positive start in what is a tough pool, with all three previous meetings between the sides in the COSAFA Cup ending in draws.
The evening game will be played between Lesotho and Malawi (17h00 CAT). These two sides met in last year’s pool stages and it was Eswatini who ran out 3-1 winners.
In all the sides have also met three times before, with a single win for Lesotho and two defeats.
Both these teams will feel they should be in the quarterfinals, and with only one team advancing, this could be a decisive game early in the tournament.