Sierra Leone delivered the first shock result of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after they held defending champions Algeria to a 0-0 draw in their Group E encounter at the Japoma Stadium in Douala on Tuesday.
It was just Sierra Leone’s third AFCON appearance, and their first match at the continental showpiece after a 26-year absence, compared to Algeria who were participating in the tournament for a 19th time.
Algeria failed to seriously trouble Sierra Leone’s defence in the first half despite enjoying close to 70 percent possession.
A major upset looked to be on the cards shortly after the start of the second half when Mohamed Turay managed to put the ball past Algerian goalkeeper Raïs M’Bolhi. However, Sierra Leone’s joy was short-lived as the effort was ruled out because of an offside in the run-up to the goal.
Algeria upped the ante thereafter, even bringing on a trio of attacking players, but they were left frustrated as Leone Stars stopper Mohamed Kamara produced a host of excellent saves to keep the game scoreless.
The draw saw Algeria go joint top of the group on one point with Sierra Leone and extend their unbeaten run in the competition to nine matches.
Despite the result, Algeria will be aiming to bounce back and go all the way and win back-to-back AFCON tournaments for the first time since Egypt’s three in a row from 2006 and 2010.
The other group game will see two-time winners Côte d’Ivoire take on Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)