Belmadi wants response from Desert Foxes

Big Plea. Belmadi has demanded his star-studded side to rise to the occasion. PHOTO/AFP

Algeria national coach Djamel Belmadi endured more frustration than his players after the defending champions were held to a goalless draw by Sierra Leone in the Group E opener at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Tuesday.

Whereas the Desert Foxes extended their unbeaten run to 35 games - world record is at 37, it is the failure to beat the 108th ranked side that perplexed Belmadi. And the 45-year-old is demanding a reply from his star-studded side against Equatorial Guinea on Match Day Two at the Japoma Stadium in Douala.

The draw against the two-time winners was a big shock for the men from Freetown. They had last featured in 1996 but upon return, their goal keeper Mohamed Kamara was even reduced to tears after an inspirational man-of-match performance.
Kamara kept out efforts from Algeria’s Yacine Brahimi, Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani as well as Ramy Bensebaini and Baghdad Bounedjah at the end.
Now Belmadi will hope his unit can unlock Equatorial Guinea early enough to quell any looming pressure otherwise, the North Africans could be facing the exit door. As Algeria search for a vital three points, group leaders Ivory Coast will hope to secure another victory when they meet Sierra Leone.

Whereas the latter are beaming with confidence, 1992 and 2015 winners Ivory Coast have plenty of options for goals in Wilfried Zaha, Sebastien Haller, Maxwel Cornet and skipper Max Gradel in the mix.
Gradel’s fifth-minute effort earned the Elephants three points against Equatorial Guinea. In Group F, Tunisia must overcome the poor officiating in their opening defeat to Mali by beating Mauritania.

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