Algeria 0-0 Sierra Leone: Afcon defending champions held by minnows

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Algeria 0-0 Sierra Leone: Afcon defending champions held by minnows
Algeria 0-0 Sierra Leone: Afcon defending champions held by minnows

Africa-Press – Sierra-Leone. The Desert Foxes came into the game as favourites but failed to get past the Leone Stars who were making a return to the competition after 26 years Defending Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria were held to a goalless draw by Sierra Leone in a Group E encounter staged at Omnisport Stadium in Douala on Tuesday evening.

The West Africans, who were making a return to the competition after 26 years, almost took a shock lead after just two minutes when Yacine Brahimi’s blunder gave Alhaji Kamara half a chance but Aissa Mandi reacted fastest to deny him that opportunity.

Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez showed his class in the fourth minute when his no-look pass fooled the defenders, giving Islam Slimani a chance, but despite getting past the keeper, the angle became too tight and his effort went out for a goal kick.

In the sixth minute, Leone Stars had another chance; this time around, Mustapha Bundu managed to beat Ramy Bensebaini to the ball, and he passed to Alhaji Kamara whose strike missed the target by inches.

Despite coming into the match as underdogs, Sierra Leone kept their shape in early exchanges, denying the reigning champions clear-cut chances, especially in the final third. The Desert Foxes continued playing short passes, making intelligent movements, aiming at breaking the otherwise solid Leone Stars defence.

The West Africans came closest to finding the back of the net in the 23rd minute. Youcef Atal committed a foul and Bundu took it. The unmarked Alhaji Kamara took full advantage of the situation, but his header narrowly missed the target with Rais M’Bolhi in the Algeria goal well beaten.

M’Bolhi had to be alert in the 31st minute to deny John Kamara who had seamlessly weaved through the defence before taking a shot from the edge of the 18-yard area.

In the stroke of half-time, Leone Stars keeper Mohamed Kamara had to be alert to clear the danger after Slimani had been left loose in the danger zone. Stars ended the first half with seven attempts as opposed to four for the defending champions.

Sierra Leone thought they had scored in the 49th minute when Mohamed Buya Turay held his composure in the danger zone before slotting home. However, the celebrations were cut short by the assistant referee’s offside flag.

The biggest moment of the game fell to Algeria’s Brahimi when he managed to get himself into a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper in the 52nd minute, but the latter pulled an excellent save to ensure the scoreline remained 0-0.

Steven Caulker made a massive block in the 67th minute to deny substitute Sofiane Bendebka who had come on for Brahimi. The goalkeeper had parried Youcef Belaili’s effort but the ball went as far as the substitute but the former England defender ensured the ball did not cross the line. Mahrez and Said Benrahma had chances to win it late for the Desert Foxes but they did not utilise them.

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