Belaili scores direct from corner as Algeria win in 'car park'
Algerian player Belaili Youcef (right) celebrates after scoring direct from a corner to give defending champions Algeria a 1-0 away win over Botswana during matchday two of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying on Monday.
AFP, Johannesburg :
Youcef Belaili scored direct from a corner to give defending champions Algeria a 1-0 away win over Botswana Monday during matchday two of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
The Saudi Arabia-based winger took advantage of a strong wind in Gaborone to curve the ball over goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe into the far corner of the net on 14 minutes.
It proved the only goal of a foul-riddled match that ended with the home side down to 10 men after Gape Gaogangwe was sent off six minutes from time.
Fluid football was scarce on a hard, bumpy National Stadium pitch described by one commentator as "like trying to play in a car park".
Algeria lacked captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who was excused from a journey covering virtually the length of Africa because of undisclosed "personal reasons".
The trophy-holders top Group H with a maximum six points after they thrashed Zambia 5-0 in Blida last Thursday.
Meanwhile, Ghana also maintained a perfect start to qualifying for the 2021 tournament in Cameroon by winning 1-0 in Sao Tome e Principe through a 50th-minute penalty from Jordan Ayew.
The in-form Crystal Palace forward calmly planted the ball in the net after a foul on Emmanuel Boateng.
Ghana lead Group C with six points, South Africa and Sudan have three each and Sao Tome are pointless.
A brilliant goal from Johana Omollo was not enough to give Kenya a Group G victory in Nairobi as Togo recovered to force a 1-1 draw.