Algeria were touted as one of the tournament favorites but the star-studded side bowed out of the African Cup of Nations winless after being held to a 2-2 draw by a second string Senegal in Franceville on Monday night.
With stars such as Leicester City duo of Riyad Mahrez and Islam Silimani as well as FC Porto’s Yacine Brahimi, Algeria were tipped as one of the teams to watch. But the Desert Foxes disappointed, drawing all their group matches.
Senegal who made 10 changes to the squad that played Algeria have now set up a date with Cameroon in the quarter finals. Stars like Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye were rested for the tie.
Tunisia who beat Zimbabwe 4-2 in the highest score-line of the tournament will meet Burkina Faso in the quarter finals on Saturday.
Heading into the final round of group matches, Algeria needed to win against Senegal who were already assured of topping the group and hoped Zimbabwe do them a favor by beating Tunisia.
But that scrip was shredded and Algeria will now head back home to pick the pieces with their World Cup 2018 Qualification also being far from convincing.
In this match, Slimani struck twice in either half, but a spirited Senegal side came from behind to pick a point and top the group. T
he Leicester forward gave Algeria the lead early when he volleyed home a Sofiane Hanni cross from close range.
The North Africans had started the match with pace knowing only a win would raise their faintest hopes of qualification.
Mahrez shot saved
Mahrez, the reigning African footballer of the year came close with a shot that was saved by the Senegalese keeper after he broke through on the right.
Mahrez, also voted the PFA player of the year in England was dazzling the crowd and even benefited in cheers from Senegalese fans with his brilliant footwork that however couldn’t bear a goal.
Senegal then drew level two minutes before half time when Papa Diop struck from long range after an Aissa Mandi clearance fell graciously on his path.
In the second half, Algeria got back into the lead in the 52nd minute when Slimani struck home after picking up a cross from Leicester team mate Mahrez. T
hough Cheikh Ndoye attempted to clear the ball off, the second assistant referee raised his flag up signifying the ball had crossed the line.
The lead lasted only two minutes. Fernabache forward Mousa Sow drew parity with a long range effort .
In Libreville, Tunisia were in a mood to enjoy themselves, scoring all four goals in the first half, leading 4-1 at the break.
Nine minutes into the match, Naim Sliti opened the scores with a fierce deflected shot from the edge of the box.
On 22 minutes, Sliti turned provider, teeing up Youssef Msakni for a neat finish as the Zimbabwean defense went up in shreds. Tunisia were 3-0 up after 36 minutes, this time Yassine Khenissi beating the Zimmbabwe keeper at his near post.
Coming back from injury, Knowledge Musona reduced the deficit for Zimbabwe with a well taken goal after going past two defenders.
The faint hopes of a comeback were thwarted at the stroke of half time with Wahbi Khazri converting a penalty.
Although the pace of the game died down in the second half, Orlando Pirates forward Tendai Ndoro who has been coming off the bench throughout the tournament grabbed a second for Zimbabwe.