Nigeria’s Super Eagles beat the Pharaohs of Egypt 1-0, courtesy a Kelechi Iheanacho 30th minute goal, in their opening Group D match in Garoua at 2021 AFCON in Cameroon.
Holders Algeria held by Sierra Leone in their 2021 AFCON Group E opener
Riyad Mahrez and his teammates failed to spark as reigning Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Algeria drew goalless with Sierra Leone in their opening Group E fixture on Tuesday.
Heading into the delayed 2021 tournament aiming to become the first team to win consecutive AFCON titles since Egypt won three in a row between 2006 and 2010, Algeria were favorites.
They dominated the game in Douala but could not find a way through Sierra Leone’s solid rearguard.
Appearing at only their third AFCON finals and their first since 1996, Sierra Leone went close themselves midway through the first half through Alhaji Kamara and Umaru Bangura.
But they only managed one attempt on target throughout.
The second half was all Algeria, yet Mohamed Kamara pulled off some excellent saves to deny Yacine Brahimi and Manchester City’s Mahrez.
One-time England international Steven Caulker made a superb block from Sofiane Bendebka.
Algeria were able to call on the likes of Baghdad Bounedjah —- who netted the winner against Senegal in the 2019 final —- and Said Benrahma from the bench.
But the West Ham attacker spurned a glorious opportunity late on as the holders’ profligacy proved costly in an underwhelming start to their title defence.
They are in a group that also includes Côte d’Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea.
Also Sudan, Guinea Bissau in goalless draw after late penalty save
Sudan goalkeeper Ali Achrine on Tuesday saved a late penalty to ensure they played out a goalless draw with Guinea Bissau at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) soccer tournament in Garoua, Cameroon.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Achrine had little difficulty pushing away a poorly taken kick by midfielder Pele and then watching as the follow-up from Piqueti cannoned back off the crossbar.
The goalkeeper turned from villain to hero after bringing down Steve Ambri to give away the spotkick with eight minutes left of a tepid tussle between two of the tournament’s lesser lights.
A minute later, Guinea Bissau striker, Frederic Mendy, had a powerful shot cleared off the line as Sudan held on for a share of the spoils in the Group D encounter.
Joseph Mendes had a first chance for Guinea Bissau, peeling away from the Sudan defence to find space and head a free kick against the upright in the 16th minute, but Sudan keeper Achrine was quick to gather up the rebound.
Sudan’s best effort was on the stroke of halftime when Guinea Bissau goalkeeper Maurice Gomis was forced to parry away a stinging shot from Mohamed Abdelrahman.
Sudan had made a drastic overhaul of their squad just weeks before the tournament after they lost all three group games at last month’s Arab Cup.
They fired French coach Hubert Velud and dropped many of their regulars ahead of the tournament.
Guinea Bissau next take on Egypt and Sudan meet Nigeria on Saturday.
AFCON 2021 GROUP D TABLE
# Team P GD Pts
1 Nigeria 1 1 3
2 Guinea-Bissau 1 0 1
3 Sudan 1 0 1
4 Egypt 1 -1 0