Senegal vs Algeria | Tuesday 27 January | Malabo | 20:00
Both of these sides asserted authority in their opening games, setting up the ‘Group of Death’ to be just that for any side not able to produce their best on any given day. Whilst most of us will be rooting for Bafana Bafana to be one of the two sides to make it through in Group C, you have to feel that after such strong starts, both Senegal and Algeria are deserved qualifiers. However, this group is so wide open that any number of permutations still exist, with goal difference a potential decider in advancement.
To Win (90mins)
Senegal came from behind to hold off a strong Ghanaian side 2-1 in their first game of the group stage. An early Andre Ayew penalty was later cancelled out, before a 93rd minute winner saw Senegal take all three points. They faced South Africa in their second game and while they would’ve felt that Bafana Bafana could well be the easiest game of the group, were made to come from behind again to salvage a point. They will be very wary of going up against Africa’s number one side and will have to see more from their pivotal attacker, and Stoke City regular, Mame Diouf.
Algeria were slow to get going in their opening match against South Africa but after almost going down 2-0, a missed penalty by Bafana striker Tokelo Rantie seemed to spark the Greens into life to record a convincing 3-1 win. A late 92nd minute Asamoah Gyan winner saw Algeria sink to defeat against Ghana. These sides haven’t met since 2008 so there will be some feeling out to do in the early stages. Algeria impressed in the 2014 World Cup, going out in proud fashion to Germany in extra time. Their clinical finishing and swift counterattack are menacing for any side out to score goals against them and you constantly feel the Algerians knocking on door at the other end.
VERDICT: Both Teams to Score 11/10
Senegal boast a strong recent record and with Algeria’s status, I can see this being an open game of many opportunites. Both need the win to seal qualification and will be at each other’s throats for the entire ninety minutes. However, as has been the trend so far in this competition, matches of that nature tend to end in score draws. Instead of looking for a winner here I foresee goals, as Senegal’s formidable attacking forces face an Algerian side lethal on the counterattack. There’s value in it, too. Get on.