Africa Union

Afcon 2021: Holders Algeria held to 0-0 draw by Sierra Leone

Algeria began the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title with a goalless draw against a stubborn and spirited Sierra Leone side in Group E.

The Leone Stars had the better first-half openings, with Alhaji Kamara sending two chances narrowly wide.

After the break Algeria forward Yacine Brahimi shot straight at keeper Mohamed Nbalie Kamara, who also tipped a low shot from Riyad Mahrez past the post.

Nbalie Kamara denied Ramy Bensebaini and Baghdad Bounedjah in stoppage time.

Former England defender Steven Caulker, who recently switched international allegiance to Sierra Leone, made two crucial blocks to help his side to a clean sheet on their first Nations Cup appearance since 1996.

Misfiring Algeria frustrated by Leone Stars keeper

The draw saw Algeria extend their unbeaten run to 35 senior internationals, edging closer to Italy's world record of 37 matches without defeat, but coach Djamel Belmadi will be frustrated his charges failed to find a way past a side ranked 108th in the world.

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The Desert Foxes continually carved out opportunities in the second half but were let down by their finishing – with substitute Said Benrahma skewing a shot wide with five minutes remaining after coming off the bench.

Bensebaini cut into the box and had his low shot gathered by Nbalie Kamara in the first minute of injury time before striker Bounedjah sent a free header from a corner straight at the Leone Stars number one, who sank to his knees in celebration at full-time.

Mohamed Nbalie Kamara celebrates Sierra Leone's point against Algeria

There were occasions where the Sierra Leone keeper had ridden his luck in Douala's Japoma Stadium, having frequently come to the edge of his box in an attempt to cut out danger.

Nbalie Kamara pulled off a successful sliding block tackle on Islam Slimani in first-half stoppage time and, midway through the second half, saved a shot from Manchester City winger Mahrez just inside his area following a weak header clear.

Caulker influential at back

After Slimani had shot into the side-netting from a narrow angle for the north Africans early on, Sierra Leone almost took a shock lead when striker Kamara flashed a snap-shot wide from 10 yards.

He nodded narrowly wide from a free-kick midway through the half and Mohamed Buya Turay tested Algeria keeper Rais M'Bolhi from 25 yards.

Kamara also had a goal ruled out for offside just after the restart before Algeria began to take full control of the game.

Former Tottenham defender Caulker, making his competitive debut for the Leone Stars, brilliantly deflected an attempt from Sofiane Bendebka behind for a corner and later charged down another shot from the forward.

The Sierra Leone rear guard action which secured a point gives the West Africans hope of progressing out of a tricky group and into the last 16.

Both sides are back in action on Sunday, when Algeria face Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone take on Ivory Coast.

Sierra Leone

Line-ups

Algeria

Formation 4-1-4-1

23M'Bolhi

20Atal2Mandi17Bedrane21Bensebaini

12Belkebla

7Mahrez10Feghouli11Brahimi8Belaïli

13Slimani

  • 23M'Bolhi
  • 20Atal
  • 2Mandi
  • 17BedraneBooked at 35minsSubstituted forBenlamriat 45'minutes
  • 21Bensebaini
  • 12BelkeblaSubstituted forBenrahmaat 83'minutes
  • 7Mahrez
  • 10FeghouliSubstituted forBoulayaat 64'minutes
  • 11BrahimiSubstituted forBendebkaat 65'minutes
  • 8Belaïli
  • 13SlimaniSubstituted forBounedjahat 65'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Benlamri
  • 5Tougai
  • 9Bounedjah
  • 14Bendebka
  • 15Boulaya
  • 16Oukidja
  • 19Zorgane
  • 24Chétti
  • 25Benayada
  • 26Amoura
  • 27Benrahma
  • 28Halaimia

Sierra Leone

Formation 4-2-3-1

1Nbalie Kamara

2Kakay17Bangura5Caulker3Wright

7Quee6Kamara

19Bundu10Kamara14Buya Turay

12Kamara

  • 1Nbalie Kamara
  • 2Kakay
  • 17BanguraBooked at 77mins
  • 5Caulker
  • 3Wright
  • 7Quee
  • 6Kamara
  • 19Bundu
  • 10Kamara
  • 14Buya TuraySubstituted forKaikaiat 84'minutes
  • 12KamaraSubstituted forFofanahat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Kamara
  • 8Fofanah
  • 9Williams
  • 11Kaikai
  • 15Dunia
  • 16Sesay
  • 20Mansaray
  • 21Kanu
  • 22Kallon
  • 23Caulker
  • 27Dumbuya
  • 28Kamara
Referee:
Ahmad Heeralall

Match Stats

Live Text

Post update

Match ends, Algeria 0, Sierra Leone 0.

Artmotion S.Africa

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