By Beng Emmanuel
The opening group D and E matches of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations kick-off today with some enthralling fixtures.
Algeria vs Sierra Leone (Japoma Stadium, Douala at 2pm)
Defending champions Algeria begin their title defence against Sierra Leone who last featured at the Africa Cup of Nations over two decades ago.
The Foxes led by Manchester City’s winger Riyad Mahrez could extend their 34-match unbeaten run and make a promising start to the tournament which they hope to win for the second successive time after 2019.
Although Algeria is largely regarded as favourite of today’s clash, Sierra Leone will be keen on creating an upset and claim a crucial point or even a famous win against the North African giants.
It will also be a perfect revenge for the Leone Stars who lost to Algeria in the group stages of the 1996 AFCON-their last stint at the biennial competition.
Nigeria vs Egypt [ Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua at 5pm]
The Super Eagles of Nigeria begin their 2021 Afcon campaign against 7-time record champions Egypt in Garoua.
Regarded as group favourites, both teams are determined to make a bright start at the 24-nations tournament after other title contenders Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco made a bright start.
Nigeria who are without their most prolific forwards at the afcon; Victor Osinhen and Paul Onuachu have a tough task today to solve the Egyptian equation and most importantly neutralise threats from the star player Mohamed Salah who is on top form.
Sudan vs Guinea Bissau [Rouamde Adjia Stadium, Garoua at 8pm]
Sudan last featured at the Nations Cup in 2012 where they reached the quarter-final. The 1970 winners will surely want to mark their return with a win.
Their opponents Guinea Bissau will also want to stake a claim. Unlike Sudan, the Djurtus have never reached the knock-out stage of the biennial continental competition. They will strive to change the status-quo and their opening game will be capital in their quest.
2021 Afcon fixtures today
2pm: Algeria vs Sierra Leone [Japoma Stadium, Douala]
5pm: Nigeria vs Egypt [Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua]
8pm: Sudan vs Guinea-Bissau [Roumde Adjia Stadium, Garoua]