Thursday, 28 March 2013

Algeria edge Benin to go top

Amavubi’s Haruna Niyonzima runs with the ball past Mali’ skipper Seydou Keita in a World Cup qualifier held in Kigali last Sunday. Rwanda lost 2-1. The New Times /T. Kisambira.
World Cup qualifiers
Group H
Rwanda 1-2 Mali
Algeria 3-1 Benin

RIVALS Algeria made it two wins out of three to top Group H of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers with a 3-1 victory over Benin in Blida on Tuesday night.

The Fennec Foxes shrugged off a disastrous 2013 Cup of Nations dismal performance, in which they took one point from a possible nine after being touted as possible champions. They beat Benin to lead Mali on goal difference.

Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli opened the scoring for the hosts after just 10 minutes.

Rudy Gestede, who plays for English Championship side Cardiff, equalised 15 minutes later.

But goals from Saphir Taider and Islam Slimani sealed Algeria’s grip on the three points.

Although Benin cannot be dismissed, the struggle for supremacy is likely to come down to the Desert Foxes and the Eagles with the outcome of their September showdown in Algeria.

With three matches still remaining, Rwanda’s hopes of qualifying to the next qualifying round are slim following their 1-2 loss to Mali in Kigali over the weekend.

Rwanda took the lead in the 37th minute through striker Meddie Kagere, who controlled superbly a long pass from Edwin Ouon before squeezing the ball past Mali keeper Soumaila Diakite.

However, Mali with their experience never panicked and returned back in the second half with heads high searching for an equaliser as Amavubi sat in their defence.

Five minutes after the break, France-based midfielder Mamadou Samassa out-jumped Ouon to direct home Seydou Keita’s flicked header past Jean Claude Ndoli, who despite conceding two goals had one of his better games in the Amavubi goal. 

As Amavubi were still in shock over the equaliser, Abdou Traore played a double pass with Mohamed Sissoko to make it 2-1, a feat which ended Rwanda’s hopes of ever winning a home tie in recent years.

Amavubi have now lost two and drawn one of their three qualifying matches, and with trips to Benin and Mali and a home tie against Algeria still to come, it appears as though Rwanda’s chances of reaching the third and final qualifying round are all but over.

The second stage of qualifying for Africa has now reached the halfway stage with the winners of the 10 groups advancing to the final knockout stage to decide the five teams who will go to the World Cup in Brazil.


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