AFCON 2017: 'Favourites' Algeria crash out, Senegal march on

AFCON 2017: 'Favourites' Algeria crash out, Senegal march on
Despite the presence of African Footballer of the Year Riyad Mahrez in their ranks Algeria have bowed out of the African Cup of Nations without winning a single game
2 min read
24 Jan, 2017
Mahrez, the Leicester City winger, was unable to inspire Algeria to victory against Cameroon [AFP]

Algeria's Desert Warriors came into their final group game with Senegal knowing that their chances of progression were limited after failing to beat un-fancied Zimbabwe and Tunisia in their opening two games. 

However they started with their strongest available line-up needing all three-points to secure victory in addition to a Zimbabwe win over Tunisia, a tall order.

Having already secured their place in the knock-out stages Senegal coach Alio Cisse made 10 changes to his starting line up. 

Algeria started well, pressing on the front foot, and in the tenth minute Islam Slimani found the net connecting from close range with a cross from the left after good work from Sofiane Hanni. 

Only two minutes later Algeria narrowly missed out on adding a second after defender Aissa Mendi narrowly failed to latch onto a pass by current African Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez.

As the first half wore on both teams struggled to assert their dominance in midfield  with proceedings cagey until a 44th minute strike from outside the area by Papa Kouly Diop brought Senegal on level-terms. 

Algeria restored their lead in the second half, on 51 minutes, when Leicester team-mates Mahrez and Slimani combined well before Slimani chipped an onrushing N’Diaye to make it 2-1.

However, the lead was only to last one minute before Senegal’s Moussa Sow equalised with a powerful drive to break Algerian hearts.

In the closing minutes Algeria had a number of opportunities to claim victory, including a gilt-edged chance for Slimani that missed by a matter of centimetres. 

However as the minutes ticked away Senegal stood resolute in defence to send the Desert Warriors - among the pre-tournament favourites - packing without a single tournament win and book their own place in the quarterfinals where they will meet Cameroon.

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here