Three of the favourites to lift the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Morocco, Senegal and Algeria, got their campaigns off to winning starts on Sunday.
Morocco 1-0 Namibia
The Atlas Lions were made to fight for their opening game win in group D, which many believe to be the group of death at this year’s Afcon with South Africa and Ivory coast making up the rest of the group.
Despite coming up against the less-fancied Namibians, Morocco were made to fight hard for their three points as Itamunua Keimuine’s own goal in the 89th minute proved to be decisive.
Herve Renard would be happy that his team are up and running but he won’t be entirely happy with the performance.
Senegal 2-0 Tanzania
Senegal came into their opening game without star man in Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. This, however, did not affect Aliou Cisse’s team who cruised past their opponents in the opener.
A goal by Kate Blade in the 36th minute, and another Krepin Diatta in the 64th, were enough to hand Senegal a winning start in the Afcon as they look to build on their impressive performances at last year’s Fifa World Cup.
Algeria 2-0 Kenya
Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez was on target as Algeria launched their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 2-0 Group C win over Kenya.
Baghdad Bounedjah scored from the penalty spot in the 34th minute to give Les Fennecs the lead.
A meandering run from Youcef Atal was brought to an end by a poor challenge from Dennis Odhiambo and Bounedjah made no mistake from the resulting penalty.
Mahrez then doubled the advantage two minutes before the break when his shot from Ismael Bennacer’s cut-back was deflected past goalkeeper Patrick Matasi by Abud Omar.
Kenya were more of a threat after the interval but failed to test Algeria goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi, with Michael Olunga’s shot that was blocked by Aissa Mandi as close as they came.
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