Defending champions South Africa made a solid start to their Group B campaign as they claimed a 5-0 victory over Mauritius at the Sunset Stadium on Thursday.
There were also victories for Eswatini and Madagascar on another excellent day of football, as the number of goals in the competition rose to 26 in six matches, more than four per game.
South Africa made a strong start and were 2-0 up inside 12 minutes as goals from Sinenjongo Mkiva and Keagan Mitchell set them on their way.
They added two more in the second half through rising star Oswin Appollis, his first a rasping shot into the net and his second a neatly-placed shot into the bottom corner.
Athenkosi Mcaba added a fifth in injury-time at the end of the game as South Africa repeated the 5-0 scoreline they enjoyed over Mauritius in their 2018 opener.
In the other game in Group B, Madagascar made a strong start to their campaign with a handsome 3-0 success over Lesotho.
The Malagasy are back in the competition for the first time since 2013 and showed their potential as Rafizy Todisoa put them into a first half lead.
They made sure of the points with two goals in six minutes in the second period as Randianantenaina Arnaud and Raicardo Menakely found the back of the net.
Eswatini claimed a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Mozambique to get their campaign off to a fine start in Group C.
After a goalless first half, Lindokuhle Zwane opened the scoring for Eswatini, before Majahesibili Ndlovu added a second in injury-time at the end of the game.
It is a rare victory in the competition for Eswatini, who did not win a game between 2004 and the 2016 tournament, before they finally managed a 2-0 success over Botswana three years ago.
They had just a draw and four defeats in five games in 2017 and 2018, so will welcome their bright start to the competition.
Friday is a rest day in the competition, but the action continues on Saturday when the second round of matches will be played in Group A.
Hosts Zambia will hope to follow up their comprehensive 5-0 victory over Botswana in their opener when they take on Comoros Islands at the Nkoloma Stadium (kick-off 15h30).
Zambia have already served notice of their potential and will want to take a giant step towards the semifinals with two wins from two.
The other match in the pool is between Botswana and Malawi (10h00), with the latter also having claimed a solid 4-0 success over the Comoros in their first game.
This match is therefore a must-win for Botswana if they want to have a chance of making the semifinals.
There will also be a fixture in Group C as Angola clash with Mozambique (12h45) in a battle of the lusophone nations in the competition.
Angola will be riding a wave after their stunning 8-0 victory over Seychelles in their first match, while Mozambique have work to do after they lost 2-0 to Eswatini.
Another big win for Angola would almost ensure their place in the semifinals, at the very least as one of the best-placed runners-up.
General entrance tickets cost K10.00 and are valid for all matches played on the day. There is also a VIP option available for at a cost of K50.00. Tickets in both categories are on sale at Computicket in all Shoprite outlets nationwide.
Only the top team in each group advances to the semifinals, along with the best-placed runner-up.
You can follow all the action LIVE on COSAFATV by following this link.
Mozambique 0 Eswatini 2 (Zwane 65′, Ndlovu 90′)
Lesotho 0 Madagascar 3 (Todisoa 23′, Arnaud 71′, Menakely 77′)
South Africa 5 (Mkiva 9′, Mitchell 11′, Appollis 73′, 80, Mcaba 90’) Mauritius 0
10h30 (08h30 GMT): Botswana vs Malawi – Nkoloma Stadium
15h30 (13h30 GMT): Zambia vs Comoros Islands – Nkoloma Stadium
12h45 (10h45 GMT): Angola vs Mozambique – Nkoloma Stadium
Group A P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Zambia 1 1 0 0 5 0 +5 3
Malawi 1 1 0 0 4 0 +4 3
Comoros 1 0 0 1 0 4 -4 0
Botswana 1 0 0 1 0 5 -5 0
Group B P W D L GF GA GD Pts
South Africa 1 1 0 0 5 0 +5 3
Madagascar 1 1 0 0 3 0 +3 3
Lesotho 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0
Mauritius 1 0 0 1 0 5 -5 0
Group C P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Angola 1 1 0 0 8 0 +8 3
Eswatini 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
Mozambique 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0
Seychelles 1 0 0 1 0 8 -8 0
Matches Played: 6
Goals scored: 27
Biggest victory: Angola 8 Seychelles 0 (Group C, December 4)
Most goals in a game: 8 – Angola 8 Seychelles 0 (Group C, December 4)
3 goals – Patrick Mwaungulu (Malawi)
2 – Miguèl Afonso (Angola), Oswin Appollis (South Africa), Jimmy Mukeya (Zambia), Ambrosini Salvador (Angola)
1 – Randianantenaina Arnaud (Madagascar), Ricky Banda (Zambia), Fernando dos Santos (Angola), Tangu Gastão (Angola), Santos Kiaku (Angola), Francisco Madinga (Malawi), Camilo Mbulu (Angola), Athenkosi Mcaba (South Africa), Raicardo Menakely (Madagascar), Keagan Mitchell (South Africa), Sinenjongo Mkiva (South Africa), Crawford Mwaba (Zambia), Francisco Mwepu (Zambia), Majahesibili Ndlovu (Eswatini), Rafizy Todisoa (Madagascar), Lindokuhle Zwane (Eswatini)