AFCON 2021: Holders Algeria on the brink of group stage exit

Algeria, the current defending champions of the African Cup of Nations, could be exiting the 2021 edition of the tournament in the group stage following a loss to minnows Equatorial Guinea.

The Desert Foxes, captained by Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, went into the game as favourites despite their 0-0 against Sierra Leone in their first match in Cameroon.

Equatorial Guinea, however, stunned Algeria 20 minutes from time and held on to seal all three points and send Algeria to the bottom of their Group E table and leave the champions on the brink of a group stage exit.

Mahrez’s side came into the tournament as favourites, having played 35 matches without any losses, two short of Italy’s world record of 37. They were also expected to escape Group E unscathed as minnows Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, as well as the shaky Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire were their opponents.

The Algerian fans were in for a shock when Sierra Leone, making their first appearance in the tournament in 26 years, matched them player for player and prevented them from scoring. Expected to regain their mojo against Equatorial Guinea, they were also in for a rid6e shock.

The Natural Thunder held on as the Desert Foxes launched a flurry of attack in a desperate move to secure a point to at least give them an option to escape the group and defend their title.

Algeria currently have one point from two games and have scored no goals in the tournament so far.

Sierra Leone stirring up belief among fans with AfCON showing

After holding defending champions Algeria to a goalless draw in their opening Group E game, they showed AfCON giants Cote d’Ivoire that they also meant business by fighting back to a draw in their second group game.

The Leone Stars scored a dramatic injury-time equaliser to grab a 2-2 draw against Cote d’Ivoire following a mistake from the Ivorian defence that also led to an injury to the Elephant’s goalkeeper.

Keeper Badra Sangare fumbled a defensive back-header, twisting his knee in the process. He could only watch helplessly as Leone Star Alhadji Kamara tapped in from close range to secure another draw to give Sierra Leone a fighting chance in Group E.

As it stands, Cote d’Ivoire top Group E with four points, Equatorial Guinea are second with three following their defeat of title holders Algeria, and Sierra Leone are third with two points. Algeria are last with just one point.

The result means that they have every hope of going through to the last 16, after being tipped for an early exit from the tournament.

Sierra Leone’s keeper Mohamed Nbalie Kamara produced some good performances against Cote d’Ivoire, including a penalty save from AC Milan’s Franck Kessie, to follow up with his man of the match performance against Algeria.

They however had to fight back twice to secure the point, to the disappointment of Ivorian fans and to the admiration of adoring fans all across Africa.

They will, however, have to produce a fine performance against Equatorial Guinea and hope that Cote d’Ivoire does not slip up against Algeria to complete their fairytale return to the AfCON tournament.

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