Football

Algeria qualify for 2022 Afcon after draw with Zimbabwe

ALGERIA qualified for the African Cup of Nations in 2022 and will get the chance to defend its title at the delayed tournament despite letting a two-goal lead slip in Zimbabwe and drawing 2-2 on Monday.

The point was still enough to see the African champion through to the finals in Cameroon, which were meant to be played in January and February but were rescheduled to early 2022 — the same year as the World Cup — because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After goals in the 34th and 38th minutes, including a fine solo effort from Riyad Mahrez, it looked like Algeria would make it four wins from four.

In the 34th Reda Halaimia whipped in a long cross from the right and an unmarked Andy Delort had a straightforward header to score his first goal for Algeria.

Moments later came the brilliance from Manchester City’s Mahrez as he flicked the ball past one defender and then cut into the area before twisting and turning to wrong-foot two defenders and firing home.

The Warriors pulled a goal back two minutes before half-time as striker Knowledge Musona curled in a free kick from the edge of the area to beat Rais M’Bolhi.

That seemed to galvanize Zimbabwe and they created the better chances after the break and were rewarded when Tanzania-based Prince Dube scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute seconds after coming on as a replacement.

He picked up the ball as it was flicked on from a corner and his shot somehow went over the line as M’Bolhi failed to hold the ball for what looked like a routine save.

Prince Dube

It was a big improvement from Zimbabwe who had lost 3-1 to Algeria on Thursday evening.

In the days other Group H match there was a surprise 1-0 win for Botswana over the visiting 2012 Nations Cup winners Zambia.

The only goal of the game came after just six minutes played through Mosha Gaolaolwe, who plays his football in the second-tier of South African football.

Algeria top the group with 10 points, with Zimbabwe five points behind, Botswana are up to third with four and Zambia are once again bottom on three.

Group H Table after yesterday’s natches

Zimbabwe is second in Group H and in position for the group’s other qualifying place. ■

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