BY HENRY MHARA IN ALGIERS, ALGERIA
ALGERIA . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 3
ZIMBABWE . . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
ZIMBABWE missed a glut of chances and were made to pay by a clinical Algeria in this 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier played in an empty Stade 5 Juliet 1962 Olympic last night.
This is a match that the Warriors could have easily run away with had they managed to utilise at least half the chances that came their way.
They will rue some defensive mistakes that gave away the three goals.
France-based striker Tino Kadewere, who arrived in camp on the back of a good scoring form, somehow missed his team’s best chances, twice failing to put the ball at the back of the net.
He, however, managed to score a consolation with 15 minutes remaining to the match, but the damage had already been done.
Algeria striker Baghdad Bounedjar capitalised on Marvellous Nakamba’s mistake to put the hosts in front in the 31st minute.
Eleven minutes later, Sofiane Feghouli added his team’s advantage with a header after some poor marking by the defenders.
Superstar Riyad Mahrez sealed the points with a brilliant solo goal as the African champions strengthened their position at the top of Group H with nine points.
Zimbabwe remained on second position with four points ahead of their second match against yesterday’s opponents at the National Sports Stadium on Monday.
Zambia are on third position with three points, while Botswana anchor the table with one point.
The top two teams in the group qualify for the finals in January 2022.
Khama Billiat should have put Zimbabwe in front two minutes into the game, but his point blank shot from inside the six-yard box was blocked by the keeper’s legs.
Sixteen minutes later, in-form Kadewere headed over after yet another freekick.
Algeria’s first real chance came in the 22nd minute when Alec Mudimu needlessly conceded a freekick just outside the box, but the hosts couldn’t capitalise.
Algeria got their goal when Nakamba lost possession and Divine Lunga slipped as he tried to recover, only to lose his man Sofiane Feghouli, whose free hit was parried back into play by Chipezeze for Baghdad Bounedjah to tap in the rebound from close range.
Buoyed by the goal, Algeria began to control proceedings, and their dominance reflected on the scoresheet when Mahrez crossed for Feghouli to head past the exposed Elvis Chipezeze.
Lunga could have done better when he allowed the ball to run past him for Mahrez instead of pushing it out before it reached the winger.
As the referee sounded for halftime, Musona, probably incensed by the way the team had given away the goals, called his lads for a quick meeting on the centre circle and could be seen giving them a tongue lashing.
Warriors coach Zdravko Logarusic made an injury-forced substitution at halftime, bringing in goalkeeper Talbert Shumba after Chipezeze appeared to have injured himself with the last kick off the first half.
Kadewere then wasted another good opportunity when he was put through clean early in the second half, but his tame shot was flicked over by Raïs M’Bolhi Mbohli.
On the hour mark, Tendayi Darikwa flashed his header behind the post from another perfect Musona corner kick as the visitors continued to search for a way back into the match.
But they were further pegged back when Mahrez dinked past Shumba after a good run from deep.
The Manchester City superstar had been relatively quite up to this point, but showed his class when he made a brilliant solo run beating a cluster of defenders before finishing smartly.
Kadewere pulled one back with an exquisite dink of his own after he had been put through by Musona but it proved too little too late for Zimbabwe to mount a comeback
Algeria: A Mbolhi, A Mandi, J Tahrat, M Reda, R Mahrez (A Ounas, 70’), B Bounedjah (K Aribi, 75’), S Feghouli (M Zerkane, 75’), Y Nasr, M Abeid, R Bensebaini, I Bennacer
Zimbabwe: E Chipezeze (T Shumba, 46’), T Darikwa, A Mudimu, T Hadebe, D Lunga, M Nakamba, O Karuru (T Rusike, 70’), J Zemura (K Mahachi, 70’), K Musona, K Billiat (D Moyo, 75’), T Kadewere
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