Algeria, the reigning African champion, was held in check on Tuesday by Sierra Leone, in the first match of Group E in the African Cup of Nations.
It was the first time a favourite had lost a match at the Africa Cup of Nations. Senegal, another favourite, had won a last-second penalty against Zimbabwe (1-0), but Algeria had failed to play to the end and had lost 0-0.
The only consolation was that the “Greens” were content to extend their unbeaten run to 35 matches, two shy of the record set by Italy (37). It’s a good thing they’ve got a record of 35 games unbeaten, two shy of the record set by Italy (37), and they can match it if they don’t lose to Equatorial Guinea and C?te d’Ivoire, their next opponents in Group E, who play each other on Wednesday (2pm).
But Djamel Belmadi’s men, who did not show much of a winning streak against the impeccably disciplined ‘Leone Stars’, will have to do much more to avoid losing to the Elephants.
– Sierra Leone dominated at first –
John Keister’s Green and Blue even dominated at first. In the first half, the only chances came from Sierra Leone, a swivel shot from Alhadji Kamara (5th), and a powerful header from Umaru Bangura (23rd).
After the break, the Algerians came close to breaking the deadlock when Alhadji thought he had opened the scoring, but he was offside (48th).
It was the first time that the African champions had taken the lead in a match, with Riyad Mahrez’s pass to Yacine Brahimi thwarted by goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara (52nd).
The Algerians took the lead in the last half-hour, but without success. The Algerians had the best chance of the game when Sofiane Bendebka’s shot was saved by Fenerbahce defender Steven Caulker (67′).
Mahrez’s shot was deflected by Moh Kamara (81st), and Said Benrahma could have scored with his very first ball, but he top-loaded his shot (86th).
A final header from Baghdad Bounedjah was too weak to allow Algeria to repeat the feat of Senegal the day before (90th+4).
Sierra Leone, who qualified for their third appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations after a stormy final match against Benin, polluted by a history of dubious positive tests, came away with a historic result.