Mehriz scored twice when Algeria beat Niger.



Riaz Mehriz celebrated joining the 30 Ballon d’Or nominees on Friday when he captained Algeria to a 6-1 victory over Niger in the World Cup qualifiers.

Blaida’s result put Group A’s reigning African champions in the lead, with a goal difference between the two teams before Burkina Faso and the first to advance to the final round in March.

It extended Algeria’s unbeaten run to 30 matches.

Both of Mehriz’s goals came from pieces of the set as he converted a free kick in 27 minutes to break the deadlock and give Desert Fox a 1-0 half-time advantage.

After Sufian Fegoli doubled the lead to two minutes in the second half, Manchester City winger and former African footballer of the year Mehriz scored from the penalty spot in one hour to take a 3-1 lead.

Nigerian Zakaria Suleimani conceded one goal and Islam Soleimani increased his World Cup qualifying goal tally from one break to six.

Mehriz and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah are two Africans vying for the Ballon d’Or, who are named the world’s best footballers after a survey of national team coaches and captains and journalists.

Algeria have hosted Niger – 89 places below North Africa in FIFA’s latest world rankings – scoring 16 goals in three World Cup qualifiers and conceding just one.

The Bleda Blitz stretches from Algeria’s unbeaten run to 30 matches, the last time they lost to Benin in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in October 2018.

Abdel Tapsoba scored twice in Burkina Faso’s 4-0 victory over Djibouti, who hosted the match in Maracaibo, Morocco, as they do not have an international standard stadium.

Egypt replaced Libya as the leader of Group F, winning the top-of-the-table clash in Alexandria 1-0 with a superb goal by Omar Marmosh.

VFB Stuttgart gave a non-stop shot to goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnosh from the edge of the box in the 49th minute.

The victory came in a two-match winning streak for Mozambique-born former Real Madrid manager and Manchester United assistant Carlos Queiroz, who replaced the recently sacked Egyptian coach Hassam al-Badri.

When the 40 African hopefuls were drawn in 10 categories, Group D emerged as the toughest, with the top two ranked teams, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, pitted against each other.

Cameron set an African record with seven in the World Cup and Ivory Coast has been in the World Cup three times in a row before being knocked out of the 2018 final in Russia.

A weak Ivorian side scored twice to give Malawi a 3-0 victory, the lack of an international standard stadium forcing them to play in Suito, near Johannesburg.

The victory took C آئیte d’Ivoire to seven points in the half, one more than Cameroon, whose veteran forward Eric Maxim Chopu Mutting won 3-1 against Mozambique in Douala.

Ivory Coast rested four Premier League players – Eric Bailey, Maxwell Carnett, Nicolas Pepe and Wolfred Zaha – before the return match against Malawi on Monday.

He left Wolves defender Willie Boley as the only England-based player in the starting line-up, and the absence of ‘big names’ was hardly noticed as he quickly took control.

Max Gradell opened the scoring in the 35th minute and the dominance of the second half was converted late when Ibrahim Sangare and Jeremy Boga scored.

Veteran Bayern Munich forward Chopu Mutting scored in each half and Carl Toko Ikambi added a third goal in the Atlantic port city of Douala before Jenny Catamu calmed down late.

A miserable night for the Mozambican Mombas (snake) was completed two minutes after Danilo Moze was shown a straight red card.

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