The Citizen (KZN)

Bafana brace for quality Algeria

- Jonty Mark

An Algeria side rebuilding after a disappoint­ing Africa Cup of Nations will take on Bafana Bafana in a friendly internatio­nal at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers tomorrow.

While Hugo Broos’ Bafana exceeded expectatio­ns at the Afcon in the Ivory Coast, picking up a bronze medal, Algeria had a dismal tournament, managing just two points and finishing bottom of their group.

That spelled the end of the road for head coach Djamel Belmadi, with Swiss mentor Vladimir Petkovic taking up the reins. Petkovic opened his account on Friday as Algeria beat Bolivia 3-2, also at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, with Villareal defender Aissa Mandi grabbing a stoppage-time winner.

These friendlies are all part of the Fifa Internatio­nal Series, a tournament designed by the footballin­g body to give teams from different confederat­ions more of a chance to play each other.

Bafana played their first game of the series on Thursday against European minnows Andorra, in a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.

Algeria are without regular captain Riyad Mahrez, the former Manchester City star asking to be left out of the squad, while Islam Slimani, Algeria’s all-time leading goalscorer, has also been omitted.

But there is still an abundance of overseas-based quality in the Desert Foxes squad. The experience­d Baghdad Bounedjah, now based in Qatar, led the line against Bolivia alongside Rennes attacker Amine Gouiri, who scored Algeria’s first goal.

Algeria may well be without Borussia Dortmund defender Ramy Bensebaini, meanwhile, after he limped off just 19 minutes into the game against Bolivia.

Bafana arrived in Algiers on Saturday, after playing their opening friendly against Andorra in Annaba.

Broos is likely to field a far stronger line-up against the Desert Foxes, with nearly all of the Sundowns players that starred in the Africa Cup of Nations finals rested for Thursday’s draw.

The likes of Ronwen Williams, Grant Kekana, Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane could well return, while it remains to be seen if the Bafana head coach rewards Sekhukhune’s Elias Mokwena, Bafana’s best player and goalscorer against Andorra, with another

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