World Cup playoff: Algeria beat hosts Cameroon to hold advantage

Islam Slimani scored in the 40th minute of the first leg encounter to tip the balance of the fixture in Algeria’s favour.

Algeria’s Desert Foxes on Friday beat hosts Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 1-0 in Douala for a crucial lead in their 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff.

The 2019 African champions scored through Islam Slimani in the 40th minute of the first leg encounter to tip the balance of the fixture in their favour.

The striker rose to meet Youcef Belaili’s free-kick and power a header past Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper Andrè Onana.

Algeria, who were eyeing a fifth World Cup appearance, will now on Tuesday host Cameroon who have been to an African record seven World Cup finals.

Fifty thousand home supporters had packed the Japoma stadium, where Algeria had lost two matches and drawn one in their disappointing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) display in January.

But the Algerians, whose 35-match unbeaten run had ended then, resumed their form by showing steely resolve to keep the hosts at bay.

It seemed in the opening minutes that Cameroon would blitz their way to a comfortable victory, as Belmadi lined up a 5-2-3 formation for the first time since he took charge in 2018.

Lyon forward Karl Toko Ekambi threatened Rais M’Bolhi’s goal on two occasions, but Algeria found its shape after a quarter of an hour.

They began controlling possession and nullifying Cameroonian attacks.

The match was significantly delayed in the second half with multiple substitutions and then a partial power outage which affected some of the stadium’s lighting projectors.

On the pitch, the hosts suffered from a similar lack of illumination until the closing stages when Karl Toko Ekambi and substitute Leandré Tawamba prompted scares in the Algerian defence.

Now, the Algerians have not lost a home match at Stade Mustapha Tchaker stadium in Blida since they started playing at the arena in 2004.

It is a run that spans over 40 matches.

Tuesday in Blida will now determine what goes from there for both sides.(NAN)

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