Five star men from Africa's World Cup qualifiers

John Obi Mikel Cristiane Mattos, EPA

Which of the continent's stars impressed KweséESPN during an engrossing weekend of African qualifiers?

John Obi Mikel, Nigeria: There have been doubts about Mikel's role with the Super Eagles following his move to Tianjin TEDA, with coach Gernot Rohr hinting that he's less inclined to consider players in the Chinese Super League.

However, the plethora of Nigerian players who have opted for the CSL and the Eagles' underwhelming showing against South Africa in their opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier have forced his hand, and Rohr opted for both Mikel and Odion Ighalo for the showdown against Cameroon.

It was Ighalo who found the net, but Mikel was arguably the Eagles' outstanding player, contributing an excellent assist for the opener and scoring Nigeria's second.

The West African heavyweights are a different prospect when the Champions League winner is pulling the strings in midfield, and Mikel's return to the side should ensure that the Eagles reach their sixth World Cup.

Seydou Doumbia, Ivory Coast: Marc Wilmots has inherited a side full of stars after taking the reins with the Elephants, particularly now that Gervinho has returned from injury and Salomon Kalou opted to come out of his brief international retirement.

The Belgian coach has no shortage of attacking options - he's also introduced Olympique Lyonnais forward Maxwel Cornet to the fold - but it was one of the team's veterans, Doumbia, who has emerged as Wilmots' MVP.

He was overlooked for Michel Dussuyer's unhappy tenure, but scored twice in the defeat by Guinea and then bagged another two goals as the Elephants thumped Gabon 3-0 away on Saturday.

If Max Gradel can rediscover his top form - as he's threatening to do - and when Wilfried Bony, Wilfried Zaha and Jonathan Kodjia return to fitness (and to the fold) the Elephants should have the firepower to reach Russia.

Brian Mwila, Zambia: In the aftermath of Nigeria's demolition of Cameroon, Zambia's 3-1 triumph over Algeria has gone a little bit under the radar - at least outside of Lusaka.

However, it was a memorable victory by the Chipolopolo, as they revived their faint, faint hopes of qualification with a 3-1 victory.

Admittedly, Algeria are facing a litany of problems right now, but the hosts deserve credit for weathering the storm in the second half - particularly after Fashion Sakala had been dismissed.

It was Mwila's performance in the first half an hour, however, that ultimately decided this one.

First of all, the newly acquired Platinum Stars frontman demonstrated his aerial class with a leaping header to divert a cross past Rais M'Bolhi.

Then - sniffing an opportunity - he was quickest to react when the Algeria stopper spilled the ball, capitalising on hesitation in the visiting defence to poke home the Fennecs' second.

Denis Onyango, Uganda: Like Zambia, Uganda were responsible for a major giant killing this weekend, as they stunned the Pharaohs 1-0 in Namboole to move atop Group E.

Emmanuel Okwi has received much of the plaudits following his match-winning strike - and a beautiful goal it was too - but this was a triumph that owed a lot to skipper Onyango.

The Mamelodi Sundowns stopper pulled off one outstanding stop to deny Mohamed Salah, and organised his defence superbly as the Cranes hassled and stymied their illustrious visitors.

Onyango promised that he and his teammates knew how to neutralise Salah and Co. ahead of the match, and the skipper was true to his word with an excellent display - both as a goalkeeper and as a captain.

With Onyango between the sticks, the World Cup may not feel like such a distant dream for the East Africans.

Cedric Bakambu, Democratic Republic of Congo: The only player included here who wasn't on the winning side at the weekend, Bakambu found the net in the Leopards' 2-1 defeat by Tunisia, and was a constant threat for the visitors throughout.

His movement, positioning and pace have made him an eye-catching contributor for Villarreal in La Liga, and while his international career has been a stop-start affair, here he demonstrated why he ought to be the key man in the Congolese attack.

Bakambu's goal - a close-range header following an error by Rami Bedoui - could yet prove important in a group which may yet come down to goal difference, while his pressing and energetic forward play prompted some of his lethargic teammates to improve their performances and up the ante.

Could 'Bakagoal' yet prove to be a key man in the return match in Kinshasa on Tuesday?