Warriors lock horns with Algeria today
January 15 2017 – LEICESTER City’s Riyad Mahrez will play his first match since being named African Footballer of the Year when Algeria take on Zimbabwe in Franceville at the African Nations Cup on Sunday (today).
Mahrez will be key to Algeria’s hopes of winning the tournament for the first time since 1990 but they will not have an easy path to the next round with former winners Tunisia and a strong-looking Senegal side also in Group B.
“Everyone has a chance to win the African Cup but it they have to prove it on the field,” said Mahrez, who was named Africa’s top player earlier this month after helping Leicester to an extraordinary Premier League title last season.
“It’s true that we have a good team, but we will see if we can win this title,” he told reporters.
For Senegal, the form of Sadio Mane wil be crucial to their chances but the Liverpool forward can expect a torrid evening from Tunisia’s tough defenders in Sunday’s second game.
On the opening day of the tournament in Libreville on Saturday, Guinea Bissau stunned hosts Gabon with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw before Burkina Faso came from behind to hold Cameroon to another 1-1 tie.
Factbox on African Nations Cup qualifiers Zimbabwe.
African Nations Cup record
Previous appearances in finals: (2) 2004, 2006
Best performance: Group phase
Drawn in Group B with Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia
Coach: Callisto Pasuwa
Former Zimbabwe international who had a successful playing career in domestic competition with Harare’s popular club Dynamos, winning multiple titles and qualifying for the group phase of the African Champions League.
As a coach he took Dynamos to four successive Zimbabwe premier league titles from 2011 to 2014 after moving up from a role as assistant and despite much initial scepticism.
First served as Zimbabwe‘s under-23 coach before being promoted to the senior team job although he has previously threatened to quit because of non-payment of his wages.
This will be the 46-year-old’s first international tournament. – Reuters