Algeria dominated and defeated Kenya 2-0 to pick maximum points at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo.
The Dessert Warriors put themselves in good position to progress out of the Groups with a deserved victory.
Baghdad Bounedjah got a lay-off and made the first attempt at goal when he shot wide in the early minutes. Patrick Matasi in post for Kenya went clean when he pushed a dangerous ball in the box to corner after Bounedjah made his second incursion at goal in just 2minutes.
Algeria had a good start making things difficult for Kenya with some high pressing game as the East Africans struggled to settle down well. Aïssa Mandi was picked up at the far post from a free kick but was unable to connect as the first clear opportunity went wasted. Kenya defender Aboud Omar received the first booking in the 13th minute when he brought down Baghdad Bounedjah on the edge of the box under intense pressure as Sébastien Migné’s side lived in nervous moments in the game. Philemon Otieno will also go into the referee’s books with another reckless challenge on Algeria full-back Ramy Bensebaini.
Kenya gradually warmed themselves into the game as they began to enjoy a share of the possession. A sweeping move from Algeria almost resulted in a goal after Baghdad Bounedjah flicked on a passing header to Sofiane Feghouli who found Youcef Belaïli approaching from the left but Belaïli will go straight at Patrick Matasi in the Kenya goal. Riyad Mahrez saw his free kick from 25 yards miss the post by a whisker as Algeria probe for the first goal.
Algeria were finally rewarded a penalty in the 32nd minute after Youcef Atal was brought down in the box following a silky run from the right back. Baghdad Bounedjah made no mistake as he beautifully converted by sending Patrick Matasi the wrong way. Kenya had their first opportunity in the 39th minute when Ayub Masika shot his ball out after Algeria failed to clear their lines at the back. Patrick Matasi failed to deal with an in-swinger from Ramy Bensebaini which came off the head of Bounedjah as Kenya went unpunished for a goalkeeping lapse.
Kenya were left in dismay in the 43nd minute after Riyad Mahrez found the back of the net from a wicked deflection on the legs of Aboud Omar after a cutback pass from Youcef Belaïli as Djamel Belmadi’s side went into the break on the driving seat with a comfortable two-goal cushioning.
Algeria seemed not to be satisfied with the two-goal lead as they unleashed more pressure on Kenya in the second half in search of more goals. Sofiane Feghouli sweeping cross into the penalty area needed just a touch as the ball eluded his teammates. Kenya would barely touch the ball as Algeria kept stringing their passes together. With the game going in their favor, Algeria infected their first change by replacing Adlène Guedioura with Mehdi Abeid with Yacine Brahimi also making an entrance by taking the place of Youcef Belaïli. Kenya also brought on Johanna Omolo for Eric Johanna. Michael Olunga in the 75th minute got Kenya’s second shot on target when his strike was blocked in the box by the Algeria defense.
Baghdad Bounedjah, also made way for Andy Delort who made his debut for the Dessert Warriors. Olunga was close to getting a consolation for Kenya when he almost connected Ayub Masika’s cross but for a block by Algerian defender Djamel Benlamri. Kenya in the latter part of the game showed some urgency by pushing for a goal. They however made their final substation by bringing on Spain-based Ismael Athuman for Dennis Odhiambo.
By Frank Darkwah