Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) holders DR Congo began the defence of their title with an impressive 2-1 qualifying win over Gabon in Libreville on Saturday.
Two goals from TP Mazembe midfielder Alain Kaluyituka Dioko helped the leopards to secure the important first round, first leg away victory.
Dioko put the Congolese in the lead on 24 minutes and extended their advantage with a solo effort just before the interval.
The home side rallied and their hopes were raised when Yohan Ngualama pulled one back late in the game but the Panthers failed to find the equaliser.
The result puts the holders in pole position ahead of the second leg to be played in Kinshasa in a fortnight.
The winner of the tie will qualify for the tournament to be held in Sudan next year.
Meanwhile Nigeria's chances of playing in their maiden CHAN tournament suffered a severe blow when they were defeated 2-0 by Niger.
First half strikes by Abdoulaye Mohamed and Modibo Sidi helped the home side to the win in Niamey.
The Super Eagles must now beat their neighbours by three clear goals in the return leg to qualify for the tournament meant exclusively for home-based players.
Youssef Ghazali's goal sealed Algeria's 1-0 win over Libya, Senegal beat Sierra Leone 1-0 while Malawi thrashed Mozambique 3-0.
Burkina Faso and Ghana played out a goalless draw in a game of few chances Ouagadougou.