Algeria start their Africa Cup of Nations title defense with an overwhelming 0-0 draw against Sierra Leona in Douala.
Algeria started defending their African Cup of Nations title with an overwhelming 0-0 draw against Sierra Leone on Tuesday in Douala as the North African team struggled to break down one of the tournament’s ranks outsiders.
Qatar-based winger Yacine Brahimi missed the home side’s best chance early in the second half when he only got the goalkeeper to beat, only for Mohamed Kamara to hold on to his shot on the second attempt.
The draw allows Algeria to extend their remarkable unbeaten run in competitive action to 35 matches, but it also means their main group E opponents, Ivory Coast, can seize the initiative by beating Equatorial Guinea on the same spot on Wednesday.
The heat and humidity of a midday kick-off at the Japoma Stadium in Cameroon’s economic capital undoubtedly did not help, but Sierra Leone deserve enormous credit for their performance in their first appearance at the Cup of Nations finals in 25 years.
Ranked 108th in the world, they were strengthened by the presence of former English international Steven Caulker in central defense, while China-based Mohamed Buya Turay was alive on the left wing.
They can be hopeful of building on this result to advance to the last 16, with the best teams advancing to third place in the group stage in what is now a 24-team competition.
John Keister’s team was backed by loud support in the stadium, although overall attendance at the 50,000-seat venue may have barely reached four figures.
Alhaji Kamara, who plays for the Danish side Randers, came close with an early screenshot for Sierra Leone, while Turay also tested for Rais M’Bolhi in the first half.
Kamara then refused an attempt for offside after halftime in front of Brahimi’s golden mist on the other side.
With Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez uninspired, West Ham United’s Said Benrahma was left to drag a shot wide shortly after coming off the bench, while Ramy Bensebaini was also denied by Kamara at the death.
Algeria, who Defeat Senegal in the 2019 final, take on Equatorial Guinea in their next match on Sunday.