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Belaïli lifts Algeria to shutout of Uganda in Oran

A new look Algeria team took the pitch to start 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying on Saturday but it was a familiar face who stole the show in their 2-0 home victory over Uganda. Forward Youcef Belaïli was directly involved in both Algeria goals as the 2019 AFCON champions got off to a good start and will hope to carry the momentum into their road encounter against Tanzania. Uganda showed some positive signs but failed to take advantage of their few opportunities and will need to improve in attack when they host Niger next.

Belaïli got right to work filling the star player role without Riyad Mahrez in the squad. In the 3rd minute the Stade Brestois playmaker danced on the left wing before lobbing a cross in to find Adem Zorgane whose header did not have enough power to get by Uganda goalkeeper Charles Lukwago. However, despite an excellent performance Lukwago could not keep out the opener in the 28th minute when Belaïli’s free kick service found Islam Slimane. Slimane’s header came back off the crossbar and off the shoulder of Aïssa Mandi into the goal from close range.

It was not completely smooth sailing for the hosts after the first goal. Soon after Mandi’s goal a corner kick for Uganda led to Algerian midfielder Rachid Ghezzal push Cranes center back Bevis Mugabi over and the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Farouk Miya stepped up but his tame low effort was well kept out by a kick save from Algeria custodian Moustapha Zeghba on only his second appearance with the Fennecs.

Belaïli continued to be the clear star of the show and nearly doubled Algeria’s lead with an audacious scissor kick attempt in the 35th minute, which was struck excellently but kept out by a diving Lukwago. However, the Man of the Match would get his goal in the 80th minute with his best play yet when he weaved through several Ugandan defenders before striking a low effort from the edge of the area that Lukwago tipped off his post and into the goal to great fanfare.

Highlights from Oran are below.

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