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Preview: Algeria vs. Sierra Leone - prediction, team news, lineups
11/01/2022 13:51:16

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

The teams have been drawn in Group E of this year's tournament alongside Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.

We say: Algeria 4-0 Sierra Leone

Algeria will be up for it right from the opening fixture, and Sierra Leone are the first team to try and stop what looks like an unstoppable force at the moment. We expect the champions to claim a resounding victory, scoring plenty of goals en route.

Match preview

Algeria eased past Ghana in a convincing 3-0 victory at the Education City Stadium on 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.

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 on Tuesday 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

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.

Team News

Baghdad Bounedjah scored four times during the qualifiers, and the Al-Sadd forward will be looking to continue his heroics in front of goal.

In the absence of several Europe-based stars, Yacine Brahimi ran the show for Algeria at the Arab Cup, but the 31-year-old is expected to drop back to the bench for this one.

Steven Caulker was recently given the green light to switch his international allegiance to Sierra Leone, and the defender is in line to make his debut on Tuesday.

Having made a record 52 national team appearances, Umaru Bangura will need to lead by example, as he is surrounded by a couple of relatively inexperienced players.

Algeria possible starting lineup:

M'bolhi; Bensebaini, Benlmari, Mandi, Atal; Zerrouki, Bennacer, Feghouli; Mahrez, Bounedjah, Slimani

Sierra Leone possible starting lineup:

M.Kamara; Kakay, Bangura, Caulker, Wright, Mansaray; J. Kamara, M.Kamara, Kallon; K.Kamara, A.Kamara.

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