Youcef Belaili scored direct from a corner to give defending champions Algeria a 1-0 away win over Botswana Monday during match-day two of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

The Saudi Arabia-based winger took advantage of a strong wind in Gaborone to curve the ball over goalkeeper Kabelo Dambe into the far corner of the net on 14 minutes.

It proved the only goal of a foul-riddled match that ended with the home side down to 10 men after Gape Gaogangwe was sent off six minutes from time.

Fluid football was scarce on a hard, bumpy National Stadium pitch described by one commentator as “like trying to play in a car park”.

Algeria lacked captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, who was excused from a journey covering virtually the length of Africa because of undisclosed “personal reasons”.

The trophy-holders top Group H with a maximum six points after they thrashed Zambia 5-0 in Blida last Thursday.

Meanwhile, Ghana also maintained a perfect start to qualifying for the 2021 tournament in Cameroon by winning 1-0 in Sao Tome e Principe through a 50th-minute penalty from Jordan Ayew.

The in-form Crystal Palace forward calmly planted the ball in the net after a foul on Emmanuel Boateng.

Ghana lead Group C with six points, South Africa and Sudan have three each and Sao Tome are pointless.

A brilliant goal from Johana Omollo was not enough to give Kenya a Group G victory in Nairobi as Togo recovered to force a 1-1 draw.

Omollo struck on 35 minutes by unleashing an unstoppable shot from outside the box only for Hakim Ouro-Sama to equalise with a header off a corner 19 minutes into the second half.

Source: AFP