Algeria is one of the top favorites at the Africa Cup as defending champion. But the team around superstar Riyad Mahrez weakened at the beginning. It was even worse for Mohamed Salah and Egypt.
Defending champion Algeria with Ramy Bensebaini from Gladbach started the Africa Cup in Cameroon with a disappointment. With the Bundesliga professional in the starting eleven, the co-favorites against the outsider Sierra Leone in Douala did not go beyond 0-0. However, Algeria expanded its impressive streak with the draw: the reigning African champions have not lost in 35 games. Only two games are missing for the Italians’ world record.
Sierra Leone, number 108 in the world, is taking part in the finals of the African Cup for the first time in 25 years. Other opponents in Group E are Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.
After the game, Sierra Leone goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara burst into tears with pride when he was presented with the trophy for Player of the Game.
Egypt loses the top game
The tournament started even worse for record winners Egypt. The team around Liverpool star Mohamed Salah lost at the start in Group D 0: 1 (0: 1) against Nigeria.
Kelechi Iheanacho (30) from England’s ex-champions Leicester City scored the decisive goal for the Nigerians, where Union striker Taiwo Awoniyi was in the starting line-up. In Egypt, Omar Marmoush from Stuttgart played through.