Mahrez scores twice as Algeria crush Niger and extend unbeaten run to 30 games

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Johannesburg (AFP)

Riyad Mahrez celebrated his inclusion among the 30 Ballon d’Or nominees on Friday by scoring twice as he led Algeria against Niger 6-1 in the World Cup qualifiers.

The result at Blida kept the reigning African champions at the top of Group A, ahead of Burkina Faso on goal difference in a two-man fight to finish first and advance to the final qualifiers next March.

It also brought Algeria’s unbeaten streak to 30 matches.

Mahrez’s two goals came from set pieces as he converted a free kick to break the deadlock in the 27th minute and give the Desert Foxes a 1-0 halftime advantage.

After Sofiane Feghouli doubled the lead two minutes after the start of the second half, Manchester City winger and former African Footballer of the Year Mahrez scored from the penalty spot on time for a 3-4 lead. 1.

Nigerian Zakariya Souleymane conceded an own goal and Islam Slimani increased his World Cup qualifying goal tally to six with a brace.

Mahrez and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah are the two Africans in contention for the Ballon d’Or, which honors the world’s best footballer after a survey of national team coaches, captains and journalists.

Algeria have hosted Niger – 89 places below North Africans in the latest FIFA World Ranking – three times in the World Cup qualifiers and have scored 16 goals for just one conceded.

Blida’s blitz extended to 30 matches on Algeria’s unbeaten streak, which last lost in October 2018 to outside Benin in a Coupe d ‘qualifier. Africa of Nations.

Abdoul Tapsoba scored two goals for Burkina Faso in a 4-0 victory over Djibouti, which hosted the game in the Moroccan city of Marrakech as they lack an international level stadium.

Egypt replaced Libya as leaders in Group F by winning the top-of-the-table clash 1-0 in Alexandria thanks to a superb goal from debutant Omar Marmoush.

The VfB Stuttgart forward fired an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush from the edge of the box in the 49th minute.

– Queiroz wins again –

The success saw Carlos Queiroz, former Real Madrid coach born in Mozambique and Manchester United assistant, who recently replaced sacked Egyptian coach Hossam el Badry, to two wins in two matches.

When the draw to divide 40 African hopefuls into 10 sections was made, Group D emerged as the toughest with two top 10-ranked teams Cameroon and Ivory Coast facing each other. .

Cameroon holds the African record for the number of appearances at the World Cup with seven appearances and Côte d’Ivoire has participated in the world showcase three times in a row before missing the 2018 final in Russia.

A weakened Ivorian side scored two late goals to complete a 3-0 victory over Malawi, whose lack of an international-level stadium forced them to play in Soweto near Johannesburg.

The victory took Côte d’Ivoire to seven points at the halfway point, one more than Cameroon, whose veteran striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored a brace in a 3-1 win over Mozambique at Douala.

Cameroonian Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (right) celebrates his goal against Mozambique in a World Cup qualifying match in Douala on Friday. Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO AFP

Ivory Coast have rested four Premier League players – Eric Bailly, Maxwel Cornet, Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha – ahead of the second leg against Malawi on Monday.

This left Wolves defender Willy Boly as the only England-based player in the starting lineup, and the absence of the ‘big names’ was barely noticed as they quickly took control.

Max Gradel opened the scoring in the 35th minute and the domination in the second half late came to goals when Ibrahim Sangare and Jeremie Boga scored.

Veteran Bayern Munich striker Choupo-Moting scored in every half and Karl Toko Ekambi added a third goal in Atlantic port city Douala before Geny Catamo scored a late consolation.

A miserable night for the Mozambicans Mambas (Snakes) ended two minutes from time when Danilo Muze received a red card.

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