May 18, 2024

AFCON 2023 :Angola Share Spoils With Algeria

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By Sedara Philip

Two-time Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Algeria were left frustrated in their first outing of the 2024 competition, as a second-half rally brought Angola from behind to draw 1-1 and ensured the Desert Warriors remain winless in AFCON since the 2019 final.


With a starting lineup featuring stars from each of Europe’s top five leagues, Algeria justified their status as clear favourites with less than 20 minutes on the clock in Bouaké. Angola had recorded four successive goalless draws against African opposition going into this one, but that streak was knocked on the head by Baghdad Bounedjah, who expertly volleyed Youcef Belaïli’s over-the-top ball past Neblú with the outside of his boot to open the account in Group D.


Scorer of both of Algeria’s first and final goals in their victorious 2019 AFCON campaign, Bounedjah could have doubled his tally with a sensational overhead kick, but the offside flag came to the immediate rescue of Pedro Gonçalves’ side. Despite their little possession, Angola weren’t without chances of their own in the first half, with their best opportunity coming as skipper Fredy hit over on the break, but they would ultimately have been satisfied to still be within striking distance of their more illustrious opponents at HT.


The restart saw Angola adopt a change in style which left them more exposed in defence, but also began to tip the balance in their favour. Some silky forward play wasn’t taken full advantage of by Zito Luvumbo, but the Sable Antelopes were finally rewarded with a penalty kick when Mabululu was felled in the area by Nabil Bentaleb. Mabululu stepped up himself, smashing in off the underside of the crossbar and allowing his fans to dream of a possible first AFCON win since 2012.


Both sides rallied for the win in response, but Angola ultimately became the latest side to walk away from a matchup against one of the tournament favourites with points on the board. Looking to avoid a repeat of their 2021 campaign – when they earned just one point in their catastrophic defence of the title – Algeria will want to continue in the vein of form that has seen them unbeaten in normal time in 22 matches.


There’s a long way to go for Angola, meanwhile, but a point against the group favourites will fuel hopes of emulating previous runs to the AFCON quarter-finals in both 2008 and 2010.

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