Wasteful Warriors hold Algeria

FRANCEVILLE - Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Algeria left it late to earn a 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday at the Stade de Franceville in Gabon.

The Leicester winger put his side ahead with a curling shot in off the post.

But Kudakwashe Mahachi's low shot into the corner and a Nyasha Mushekwi penalty made it 2-1 to Zimbabwe - a lead they held until the 82nd minute.

Algeria hit the bar twice before Mahrez levelled with a speculative 25-yard shot that Zimbabwe goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva should have saved.

While Mkuruva may feel embarrassed at his error, Algeria just about managed to save their own blushes as they rescued a point from their Group B opener - a match they were very much expected to win.

Zimbabwe, making their first appearance at the finals since 2006, will perhaps count themselves a little unlucky after playing some excellent football.

Khama Billiat was superb for the Warriors and was only denied a spectacular 30-yard goal by an outstanding fingertip save from Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbholi, who diverted the ball on to the post.

Mbholi thwarted Billiat on more than that one occasion and also produced a brilliant save with his leg to keep out Cuthbert Malajila's shot when the score was 2-1 to Zimbabwe.

But Algeria improved considerably after the interval and forced Zimbabwe back.

They hit the woodwork twice, through a Ramy Bensebaini header and when Zimbabwe defender Elisha Muroiwa narrowly avoided an own goal when he sliced a clearance.

Mahrez proved their saviour, even if it will not go down as the cleanest strike he has ever hit.

Moments before the Algeria equaliser, Warriors second half substitute Cuthbert Malajila wasted a good chance to put the result beyond doubt.

Malajila wiggled his way past a number of Algeria defenders but then shot straight into Mbholi’s feet when he could have passed to a better positioned Mahachi.

And the Desert Foxes had chances to win the match, particularly when Mkuruva came flying out and left his goal wide open but Yacine Brahimi could not take advantage.

The Warriors will take heart from their performance. They lost a key player in Knowledge Musona through injury after only 12 minutes and recovered from 1-0 down to cause Algeria a mighty scare.

Mamelodi Sundowns' star man Billiat was on top form and will cause any defence problems.

Mahrez, the BBC and Confederation of African Footballer of the Year, has got off to a terrific start, but some of Algeria's other big names were not up to speed.

Islam Slimani missed a great chance to score when he headed weakly and Brahimi can certainly produce more.

But the Desert Foxes showed resilience - a necessary quality in tournament football. – BBC Sport

Comments (4)

Fire Pasuwa.He has no skills of coaching.

MADURO - 16 January 2017

I saw Baca playing Messi was there.young one was there.they won by one to nill.missed a penalty. what about Mahachi.Malajila etc.vakomana tendai.kusatenda uroyi. Well donre guys.

nyasha - 17 January 2017

This is the first honest report of the match I have read in the Zimbabwean media. The rest of the crowd are just trying to sugar coat a wasted opportunity. Khama Billiart should have scored 2 goals, he hits a grounder on the last chance, he scores, he didn't need to put his foot through the ball. How did Malajila and Rusike even make this side? They are not good enough for this level.

Rasta! - 18 January 2017

I am not a soccer coach but a soccer fan.My advice to Calisto Pasuwa,warriors coach,if your team is leading with less than ten minutes remaining,you substitute strikers for defenders to mantain your lead until the final whirstle.This could have worked well against Algeria at Afcon2017. I think Tendai Ndoro is currently playing better than Malajila and Rusike.Go warrior go.

wilbert. - 18 January 2017

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