Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations winning coach Djamel Belmadi’s job security is in balance following yet another underwhelming display at the current edition of the tournament in Ivory Coast. The Paris born gaffer was feted for guiding the Desert Fenecs to success in 2019 but his team has not won a game at the biennial event since.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso which was secured by a 95th minute Baghdad Bounedjah strike is the fifth consecutive AFCON group game Belmadi’s side has failed to win. Algeria were also surprisingly held by Angola in their group opener and they must now win their final group game against Mauritania to ensure progress from group D. The one positive for Algeria, who won their first AFCON title under Rabah Madjer in 1990, is the form of Bounedjah who is currently joint top scorer with three goals.
Angola took charge of their qualification destiny by outlasting Mauritania 3-2 in their second group D game courtesy of a brace from Gelson. The Palancas Negras thus lead Burkina Faso on goal difference ahead of the winner takes all final group match up between the sides on Tuesday, January 23.
On Friday Cape Verde became the first team to book a slot in the round of 16 by pummelling Mozambique 3-0 in a match that will be forever associated with former Manchester United striker Bebe’s swerving 40-yard free kick that set the island nation on their way to the knock out rounds. Cape Verde’s second consecutive maximum coupled with Egypt’s 2-2 draw with Ghana left the Pharaohs, Black Stars and Mambas in a three way tussle for qualification from group B.
By far the most convincing football being played in Ivory Coast is by defending champions Senegal who booked their place in the knock out rounds by seeing off five time champions Cameroon 3-1 via goals from Ismail Sarr, Habib Diallo and Sadio Mane. Aliou Cisse’s Lions of Terranga haven’t even got out of second gear as the 2002 World Cup quarterfinalist is yet to deploy Lamine Camara, Pape Matar Sarr and Pape Gueye in tandem.
Nations Cup action continues today with 1996 champions South Africa battling to ward off elimination against neighbours Namibia who caused the biggest upset witnessed to date by upstaging Tunisia 1-0 in their group E opener. The Carthage Eagles are meanwhile stuck on one point following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Mali, the team they denied a place at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.