Algeria, led by Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez will hope to extend a 20-match unbeaten record when they host the Warriors of Zimbabwe this week as 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers restart after an 11-month coronavirus-induced break.
The Desert Foxes have won 15 and drawn five competitive and friendly internationals since they last lost, away to Benin two years ago in the previous Cup of Nations qualifying competition.
Manchester City winger Mahrez says much of the credit for the unbeaten streak must go to coach Djamel Belmadi, calling him “a magician who has breathed a soul into our national team”.
Algeria has hammered former champions Zambia and edged Botswana in Group H, giving them a two-point lead over Zimbabwe, and it would be a shock if they did not collect three more points in Algiers.
It will be the first competitive test for Zimbabwe coach Zdravko Logarusic, a coach whose contract with Sudan was not renewed after he guided them in the first two qualifying rounds.
Other tricky dwells to watch out for in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers include;
Egypt v Togo
Mohamed Salah-inspired Egypt has made a woeful start to Group G, scoring only once in draws with modest Kenya and even lower ranked Comoros to lie third.
The record seven-time African champions will hope for goals from the Liverpool sharpshooter, whose successful penalty earned Liverpool a draw at Manchester City on Sunday.
Togo has fared even worse than Egypt under veteran French coach Claude le Roy, losing at home to Comoros before salvaging a little pride by forcing a draw in Kenya.
Cote d’Ivoire v Madagascar
French coach Patrice Beaumelle has packed his Cote d’Ivoire squad with Premier League players as he tries to get the Ivory Coast back on the winning trail after a shock away loss to Ethiopia late last year.
He chose defenders Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Willy Boly (Wolves), and Serge Aurier (Tottenham) and attackers Sebastien Haller (West Ham), Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal) and Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Madagascar defied the odds by reaching the 2019 Cup of Nations last-eight, and top Group K after a 6-2 thrashing of Niger, but it is hard to imagine any result in Abidjan other than an Ivorian victory.
Kenya v Comoros
It is mind-boggling to glance at the Group G standings with Comoros, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, in the first place and star-stacked Egypt only third.
The team is known as Les Coelacantes after a rare fish and have never come close to qualifying for the finals since debuting 13 years ago and suffering home and away drubbings from Madagascar.
Formidable at home for some time, they are no longer a pushover outside Moroni and a shock win in Togo via a Faiz Selemani goal helped create the two-point lead they hold over Kenya.
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