Algeria, Senegal stage comeback in 'group of death'
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Algeria and Senegal fought back from a goal down to win their opening matches at the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, leaving Ghana and South Africa at the bottom of the tournament’s toughest group.
Title favourites Algeria trailed South Africa for much of their game and narrowly escaped a two-goal deficit when the Bafana Bafana missed a penalty, before an own-goal helped the Desert Foxes draw level after 65 minutes.
Algeria's rampant forwards then piled on the pressure, finding the net again with Faouzi Ghoulam and Islam Slimani at a packed 15,000-seat Estadio Mongomo in eastern Equatorial Guinea.
"I would have liked more control of the game, (…) we lacked rhythm at times," said Algeria’s French coach Christian Gourcuff, whose team have been labeled favourites after their excellent showing at the 2014 World Cup.
His South African counterpart, Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, was upbeat despite his first loss in the job: "The best team lost. We created a lot of chances in the first half, but after missing the penalty everything went awry."
Lions outshine Black Stars
Earlier in the day, Senegal fell behind Ghana when goalkeeper and captain Bruno Coundoul fouled Christian Atsu and the Black Stars’ captain Andre Ayew calmly converted the penalty.
Atsu wasted a great chance to add a second goal before a Kara Mbodj header rebounded off the crossbar to signal a revival for the Senegalese Lions.
Ghana struggled to contain Senegal’s forwards after half-time and Mame Biram Diouf levelled just before the hour by nodding in at the second attempt after his first header hit the post.
Diouf wasted two good chances to put his side ahead before Sow struck at the death as Senegal claimed a first Cup of Nations victory over Ghana at the fourth attempt.
Senegal coach and former France star Alain Giresse later warned his players against becoming overconfident as the Lions hunt a first Cup of Nations title. "It is always better to take three points, but it does not mean that we are guaranteed to qualify, just as the defeat for Ghana does not mean they are eliminated," he said.
Ghana will take on Algeria on Friday, knowing that a second defeat would end their campaign, while South Africa face a similar make-or-break tie against Senegal.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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