Sierra Leone to test Algeria

BY: Kwame Larweh
Algeria aim for a winning start to their title defence
Algeria aim for a winning start to their title defence

Reigning champions Algeria begin the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations title with a contest against Sierra Leone at the Japoma Stadium today.

The teams have been drawn in Group E of this year's tournament alongside Cote d'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea.

Algeria eased past Ghana in a convincing 3-0 victory at the Education City Stadium last Wednesday to cap off their preparations for the AFCON.

Strikes from Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani either side of a Jonathan Mensah own goal saw Djamel Belmadi's men run out comfortable winners in Qatar.

Algeria's impressive run

The Desert Foxes, who recently went all the way in December's Arab Cup, are yet to taste defeat across all competitions since a 3-0 defeat to Morocco three years ago.

In that time, the 2019 champions have come out on top in all but six of their 27 outings while also recording 14 clean sheets and scoring 79 goals.

Securing all three points today would be a perfect start to the North Africans' quest for back to back titles, and they will be keen to lay down an early marker.

Despite only managing seven points from their six qualifying matches, Sierra Leone managed to book a place at the Cup of Nations after finishing as runners-up to Nigeria in Group L.

John Keister's men are one of the least experienced teams at this year's competition, having not featured at this level since the 1996 edition in South Africa.

Sa Leone's history

They have also never made it past the first round in any of the previous two appearances and will need to be near-perfect if they are to stand any chance of breaking that duck.

An opening fixture against the current champions is as daunting as it gets, and the west Africans must rise up to the occasion or prepare to endure another underwhelming campaign.