Ivory Coast won the game 4-2 at home, putting them in a good position ahead of the second leg – only one team will qualify for next year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, holders Zambia began the defence of their title with a 1-0 win over Uganda, although they still have plenty to do in the second leg.
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Since Guus Hiddink arrived at the helm, Chelsea have improved considerably after a tricky start to the campaign.
Newcastle United are staring down the barrel of relegation to the Championship for the second time in the past eight years.