JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 9 – Riyad Mahrez-captained Algeria are anticipated to increase a 20-match unbeaten document once they host Zimbabwe this week as 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying restarts after an 11-month coronavirus-induced break.
The Desert Foxes have received 15 and drawn 5 aggressive and pleasant internationals since they final misplaced, away to Benin two years in the past within the earlier Cup of Nations qualifying competitors.
Manchester Metropolis winger Mahrez says a lot of the credit score for the unbeaten streak should go to educate Djamel Belmadi, calling him “a magician who has breathed a soul into our nationwide crew”.
Algeria have hammered former champions Zambia and edged Botswana in Group H, giving them a two-point lead over Zimbabwe, and it could be a shock if they didn’t gather three extra factors in Algiers.
Will probably be the primary aggressive check for Zimbabwe coach Zdravko Logarusic, a Croat whose contract with Sudan was not renewed after he guided them within the first two qualifying rounds.
Right here, AFP Sport spotlights 5 of the opposite matchday 3 fixtures that begin Wednesday and proceed by way of Saturday.
Egypt v Togo
Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt have made a woeful begin to Group G, scoring solely as soon as in attracts with modest Kenya and even decrease ranked Comoros to lie third.
The document seven-time African champions will hope for targets from the Liverpool sharpshooter, whose profitable penalty earned Liverpool a draw at Manchester Metropolis on Sunday.
Togo have fared even worse than Egypt beneath veteran French coach Claude le Roy, dropping at residence to the Comoros earlier than salvaging a little bit satisfaction by forcing a attract Kenya.
Gabon v Gambia
Compelled to pre-qualify, the Gambia wanted a penalty shootout to get rid of soccer featherweights Djibouti, which makes their management of Group D all of the extra outstanding.
The Scorpions have by no means appeared at a Cup of Nations, however an away win over Angola and a house draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo beneath Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet has Gambians excited.
Taking part in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang-skippered Gabon away ought to show the hardest check but and Gambia will miss playmaker Hamza Barry, who’s recovering from cruciate ligament surgical procedure.
Ivory Coast v Madagascar
French coach Patrice Beaumelle has packed his Ivory Coast squad with Premier League gamers as he tries to get the Ivory Coast again on the successful path after a shock away loss to Ethiopia late final 12 months.
He selected defenders Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Willy Boly (Wolves) and Serge Aurier (Tottenham) and attackers Sebastien Haller (West Ham), Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) and Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Madagascar defied the percentages by reaching the 2019 Cup of Nations last-eight, and prime Group Okay after a 6-2 thrashing of Niger, however it’s laborious to think about any lead to Abidjan aside from an Ivorian victory.
Kenya v Comoros
It’s thoughts boggling to look on the Group G standings with the Comoros, an island nation off the south east coast of Africa, in first place and star-stacked Egypt solely third.
The crew are generally known as Les Coelacantes after a uncommon fish and have by no means come near qualifying for the finals since debuting 13 years in the past and struggling residence and away drubbings from Madagascar.
Formidable at residence for a while, they’re now not a pushover outdoors Moroni and a shock win in Togo through a Faiz Selemani aim helped create the two-point lead they maintain over Kenya.
Zambia v Botswana
Whereas Zambia have slipped since beautiful Didier Drogba-inspired Ivory Coast within the 2012 Cup of Nations ultimate, nobody within the nation anticipated them to be backside and pointless in Group H after two rounds.
Dropping away to Algeria was anticipated, however dropping at residence to Zimbabwe was not, and Serb Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has been employed to urgently type out the issues hampering the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets).
“Taking part in Botswana won’t be a stroll within the park,” he warned. “They’re an excellent facet that haven’t conceded a couple of aim in any of 5 matches beneath (Algerian coach) Adel Amrouche.”