Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast beat Zambia 3-1 at home on Friday to hand new coach Jean-Louis Gasset a winning start to his tenure.
The Ivorians are participating in the qualifying competition even though they are already guaranteed a place in the 24-team tournament as hosts.
Captain Serge Aurier, Christian Kouame and Ibrahim Sangare scored second-half goals to ensure the victory in Yamoussoukro.
Burkina Faso and the Comoros Islands also won as group qualifiers for the 2023 finals continued while tiny Eswatini snatched an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time to draw 2-2 away in Togo.
The powerful Ivorians, who missed out on World Cup qualification, made no changes to their team but appointed the 68-year-old French coach two weeks ago to lead their bid to win the continental crown at home in 12 months’ time.
They took 67 minutes before breaking the deadlock against Zambia and emphasising their quality before allowing Patson Daka a stoppage time equaliser for the visitors.
Burkina Faso, forced to shift their home Group B game to neutral Morocco because their stadia were found not to be of international standard, beat the Cape Verde Islands 2-0 with second half goals in Marrakech from Hassane Bande and Dango Ouattara.
Also in Group B, tiny southern African kingdom Eswatini pulled off a 2-2 away draw as Siboniso Ngwenya snatched a last gasp goal.
The Comoros, who proved a surprise package at the finals in Cameroon in January, began their bid for a second successive finals appearance with a 2-0 home win over Lesotho in Group H.
Qualifiers continue on Saturday including home games for World Cup-bound Senegal and the 2019 African champions Algeria.