Captain Riyad Mahrez scored as Algeria beat Tunisia 2-0 in an international friendly this weekend to create a record 27 games unbeaten against an African national team.
An Ivorian side that included Yaya and Kolo Touré and Didier Drogba set a record of 26 matches in 2013, and Algeria started their remarkable streak by winning 4-1 away from Togo five years later.
Popularly known as the Desert Foxes, the North Africans set the record by winning 20 games, drawing seven, scoring 58 goals and conceding 17.
They faced 24 opponents from Africa plus Mexico, Colombia and Qatar, played nine games at home, six away and 12 at neutral venues.
Facing Tunisia away from home was a huge challenge as reigning African champions Algeria sought to surpass the mark set by the Ivorian ‘golden generation’.
The Tunisians are ranked second in Africa, two places above Algeria, had the home advantage and won 12 games unbeaten in the North African showdown.
But the Algerians’ fears of tripping over the last hurdle quickly dissipated when Qatar-based Baghdad Bounedjah and Manchester City winger Mahrez scored within 28 minutes of kick-off.
Upset after having conceded twice, there was no return for the hosts against an Algerian defense mobilized by Aissa Mandi and Djamel Benlamri.
The center-backs were among eight holders of Radès who also started the 2019 African Cup of Nations final against Senegal in Cairo, which Algeria won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Bounedjah.
AC Milan midfielder Ismail Bennacer missed wins over Mauritania, Mali and Tunisia this month with a foot injury that required surgery.
Right-back Mehdi Zeffane and midfielder Adlene Guedioura were the other absent and Youcef Atal, Ramiz Zerrouki and Haris Belkebla took their places.
Guedioura came off the bench in the second half to receive a red card two minutes from the end of regulation time.
The squad was composed exclusively of Algerians based in Europe and the Middle East, including three playing in France and two in Qatar while Mahrez was the only representative of the English Premier League.
After breaking the African record, coach Djamel Belmadi can now focus on the 36-match world record set by then world champion Brazil in 1996.
Algeria are set to play back-to-back 2022 World Cup qualifiers in September, October and November in a group comprising Djibouti, Burkina Faso and Niger.
The most difficult of the six meetings is expected to be a visit to Burkina Faso, which beat Algeria the last time the countries met in a World Cup qualifier in Ouagadougou.
Algeria will then defend the Nations Cup title from January 9 in Cameroon, where they hope to become the first country since Egypt in 2010 to successfully defend the title.
© 2021 AFP