Morocco and reigning champions Senegal were among five teams to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations during the latest engrossing international break, while five-time champions Cameroon slipped to a pair of damaging results against Namibia. ESPN reviews the major talking points from gameweek four of the AFCON qualifiers.
Cameroon in crisis
Cameroon won admirers aplenty with their plucky victory over Brazil in their final World Cup fixture in Qatar, but they fell back down to earth during a miserable international window that heaped pressure on head coach Rigobert Song.
AFCON qualification should have been assured for the Indomitable Lions, with a double-header against Namibia standing between them and Ivory Coasts next year, but instead, they now find themselves having to navigate a potentially tricky fixture against Burundi in September in order to ensure their participation.
After struggling to a draw at home against Namibia -- ranked No. 113 in the world -- Cameroon fell to an 'away' defeat in Johannesburg that left them second in the three-team pool on four points.
A draw at home to Burundi in their final group game, by which point Les Hirondelles will have hosted Namibia, will be enough to secure progression but nothing can be taken for granted with this unpredictable side.
Cameroon have won just once -- against Brazil in Qatar -- in their past nine matches, prompting FECAFOOT President Samuel Eto'o to call an emergency summit with the national team coaches on Thursday to discuss the Lions' failings.
Song claimed after the Namibia draw that he'd be Cameroon coach "until death," but Eto'o may soon make the decision for him.
More to come from Namibia
Much of the focus after Cameroon's showings focused on the Lions' failings, but credit must also go to Namibia -- who are on the brink of AFCON qualification -- and their star striker Peter Shalulile.
Sensational with Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa's Premier Soccer League this season, the 29-year-old leads the scoring charts with 11 goals. In March, he overtook Rhulani Manzini to become the South African Cup's top scorer in its current Nedbank Cup branding, and then he netted in both games as Namibia took four points from the five-time champions.
Shalulile vowed there was more to come from the Brave Warriors, as they look to secure AFCON qualification for just the fourth time.
"There are some players at home struggling, to be honest, but now, everyone knows that Namibia is capable of playing football," Shalulile said.
"There are lots of Peter Shaluliles back home."
A few more players like the Sundowns sensation -- joint-fifth top scorer in the qualifying campaign -- and Namibia could be primed for their most successful AFCON.
Benin make Rwanda allegation
Former Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr has had a testing start to life as Benin manager, and his side was held home and away by Rwanda in this international break.
However, there may be a reprieve after Rohr and his team alleged the Amavubi had used an ineligible player during the latest qualifiers.
Rwanda's Kevin Muhire featured in both matches, but Benin claimed he ought to have been suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards in previous qualifiers.
Rwandan officials said one of the yellows shown to Muhire was rescinded by the officials, but the fortunes of both sides may now hang in the balance pending a CAF ruling.
Both teams are firmly in contention to follow Senegal out of Group L, with two games to play, but Benin will be in a much stronger position to claim the outstanding qualifying berth if they are awarded a 3-0 victory.
Senegal spearhead the list of qualifiers
Six teams have booked their places at the biennial showpiece after four rounds of qualifiers, and much is still to be decided in the June and September international windows.
Morocco were the first qualifiers, joining hosts Ivory Coast without kicking a ball when Liberia held South Africa in gameweek three, and they were then joined by Burkina Faso, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and Bafana Bafana themselves.
Reigning champions Senegal dispatched Mozambique 1-0 away to confirm progress, and they and 2019 winners Algeria are the only teams with a 100% record after playing four matches; the Fennecs secured progress with a 1-0 victory away in Niger.
Baghdad Bounedjah, whose early goal was enough to secure Algeria's 2019 final triumph against Senegal, struck early again, with his sixth-minute effort taking Djamel Belmadi's team to Ivory Coast.
Despite securing qualification, the Algeria head coach made no secret of his annoyance after his side had two goals disallowed for offside.
"Refereeing is a scandal on the African continent," he said in his post-match press conference. "We don't know how to handle it, and even those who are considered good referees are disappointing. Why not get some from Europe?"
Selmi takes centre-stage
Supporting Belmadi's concerns were the performances of Tunisian official Sadok Selmi, the latest African referee to find himself in the firing line.
Selmi was criticised by both Brazil interim head coach Ramon Menezes and Real Madrid forward Rodrygo for his officiating of the friendly defeat by Morocco, and his decision to send off Cedric Bakambu during Congo DR's 1-1 draw with Mauritania was also the source of some controversy.
The striker was dismissed with a second yellow for appearing to leave a leg in on goalkeeper Babacar Niasse, despite images suggesting that contact was marginal.
Leopards players also protested furiously that Niasse had picked up a defender's backpass a split second before the incident, which should have necessitated a stoppage.
Arthur Masuaku didn't hold back with his appraisal of the referee's performance, sharing videos of Bakambu's sending off and an earlier incident in which Niasse went unpunished despite taking out the striker after the Olympiakos forward had opened the scoring.
"We might have won, maybe not, that's football, but beyond the result, decisions like these harm our competitions and our national teams, which already have enough problems before some are added on the field," Masuaku said in a post on Twitter.
"Respect us and our sport."
The Congolese, who remain bottom of Group I, intend to file a complaint about the referee's display.
Why 36 minutes of stoppage time?
During the World Cup, it was noted that officials appeared to be particularly 'generous' with the stoppage time added to matches in light of a FIFA directive that ensured fans got their money's worth.
But Uganda's AFCON qualifier against Tanzania this week was marked by a remarkable 36 minutes of first-half stoppage time, which surely wasn't what Gianni Infantino had in mind.
There was a wise reason behind the referee's decision, however, with the eye-watering stoppage time coming as a result of the match being paused to allow players from both sides to break their Ramadan fast and take on sustenance at sundown.
KCCA FC wideman Rogers Mato scored the only goal of the game in the 90th minute -- by which point the teams had been playing for 126 minutes -- to keep Uganda in contention.
The Cranes and Tanzania, each on four points, must still face Algeria and Niger (not out of the running themselves), with only one able to join the Fennecs in Ivory Coast.
Nations Cup debut in sight for Fauves
Ahead of Gameweek Three, ESPN picked Central African Republic as the team most likely to follow in the footsteps of recent first-time AFCON qualifiers Gambia, Madagascar and Burundi.
The Fauves are looking well placed after another two qualifiers, having dispatched Madagascar home and away to take a grip on second place in Group E.
The victories ensured that Madagascar -- for whom there will be no fairytale return to the tournament -- joined Sao Tome e Principe, Lesotho, Liberia and Botswana in being definitively out of the running for the tournament.
For Central African Republic, by contrast, victory at home against Angola in June will take them to the continental high table for the first time.
Their federation even shared the rallying cry of head coach Raoul Savoy ahead of the fixtures, as he urged his team to write history.
"The Central African Republic has suffered too much for years, you can give joy to this people," Savoy said, acknowledging the nation's civil war that has been ongoing since late 2012.
"Show the world that the CAR is not only about crises, but that we can win at football.
"You have the qualities to do it, and now you must show that. We have confidence, enjoy yourselves."
It clearly worked, with the rookies now on the brink of a historic qualification.