AFCON 2019: Riyad Mahrez on target as Algeria sends warning to the rest of Africa with a comfortable victory over Kenya

Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez helped Algeria began their quest for a second Africa Cup of Nations title and a first since 1990 with a comfortable win over Kenya who are making a return to the competition for the first time in fifteen years.

The Desert Warriors have flattered to deceive in recent editions of the competition despite boasting a host of star names. They went to Egypt with the mission to make up for  2017’s group stage exit. Led by Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez, Algeria started brightly against a Kenyan side that are captained by Tottenham Hotspur s Victor Wanyama.

Les Fennecs first real chance of the match fell to Aissa Mandi whose right footed shot hot from the right side of the six-yard box following an assist from was just inches wide. Algeria continued to dominate proceedings with Riyad Mahrez combining well with Sofian Feghouli, but they could not found a way through a stubborn Kenyan defence.

They continued to throw everything at the Kenyan defence with Mahrez and Youcef Belaïli trying their luck from distance but their efforts were saved comfortably by Patrick Matasi in the Kenyan goal.

However, the Harambee stars resistance will be broken in the 34th minute as they conceded a penalty after Dennis Odhiambo fouled Algeria’s right-back Youcef Atal in the box. Baghdad Bounedjah who selected ahead of Slimani in the striking role stepped up to take it and he took it perfectly by sending the keeper the wrong way to give the Foxes the lead.

The goal put Algeria in the ascendancy and could have doubled their lead minutes later after a perfect ball from the left found Baghdad Bounedjah in the box, but the Al Sadd forward could not keep his header down.

However, Algeria will not rue the miss as they double their lead in the 42nd minute through captain and talisman Riyad Mahrez. The former Leicester City midfielder slotted home from close range following a perfect ball from Ismael Bennacer.

The goal gave Djamel Belmadi side breathing space as they went into the break with a comfortable lead.  With Algeria having a decent lead, one would have expected the Kenyans to come out fighting after the break, but it was the Desert Warriors that started brightly once again.

The Kenyans were finding it difficult to cope with Algeria’s swift passing and that showed in the possession stats with the foxes having more than half of the ball. The Kenyans were struggling to find their rhythm in the game, playing aimless long balls.

However, Alegria wouldn’t mind and they almost got a third after Mahrez released Feghouli on the right, but the Galatasary’s cut back was too much for Baghdad Bounedjah.   With the game already safe, Algeria manager, Djamel Belmadi tried to reserve the energy of some of his key players by taking them off ahead of the second group game.

The former Algeria star, took off Adlene Guedioura for Mehdi Abeid, while he also brought in Porto’s Yacine Brahimi who was surprisingly left out of the starting line up for Mohamed Youcef Belail. The change was effective as Algeria maintained possession with Kenya struggling to get a hold of the ball. It stayed like that till the end of the game as Algeria went level at the top with Senegal who defeated Tanzania earlier in the day.