Togo out to claim Algeria scalp

Togo out to claim Algeria scalp
Algerian player Slimani Islam (L) in action against Nigerian player William Ekong (R) during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying soccer match between Algeria and Nigeria at Chahid-Hamlaoui stadium in Constantine, Algeria, 10 November 2017.

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Nov 14, 2018. 09:00

Togo will look to claim the major scalp of Algeria when the teams meet in a vital 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Municipal Stadium in Lome on Sunday, 18 November 2018, kick-off at 18h00 CAT.

Algeria come into the clash as the leaders of Group D, having claimed seven points from four matches. Second-placed Benin are also on seven points, Togo are third with five points and Gambia complete the quartet with two points.

The Fennec Foxes endured mixed results in the last international window, defeating Benin 2-0 in Blida in the first of two back-to-back matches, before going down 1-0 away in Cotonou in the return game.

The loss in West Africa has made the task tougher for Algeria to reach an 18th AFCON tournament (and fourth in succession), but their fate is very much in their own hands: win in Lome and a spot at the Cameroon 2019 finals will be theirs.

Djamel Belmadi remains under huge pressure – as is always the case for the Foxes’ manager – and would love to see his charges get the job done this weekend.

As for Togo, the back-to-back games against Gambia last month brought them back into contention for a ninth AFCON qualification (and a second in succession).

The Sparrow Hawks would have been disappointed to draw 1-1 at home in the first match, but a 1-0 win in the away fixture, thanks to a last-gasp goal from Floyd Ayite, was a superb result.

If they can back it up with a win over Algeria this coming weekend, Togo will be placed in the top two heading into the final round of qualifiers in March 2019.

Manager Claude Le Roy has named a strong squad, including veteran striker Emmanuel Adebayor. However, the former Arsenal man skipped the October games against Gambia because of the poor state of the artificial playing surface in Lome, and the clash with Algeria will be on the very same pitch.

In head-to-head terms, Togo and Algeria have met in five previous matches according to FIFA’s statistics database. Each side has two wins to their name, while one match has been drawn.

The teams’ most recent meeting was in the first round of group stage qualifiers back in June 2017, with Algeria winning 1-0 in Blida thanks to a goal from Sofiane Hanni.

Kenyan referee Davies Omweno will take charge of the match in Lome. The other Group D encounter sees Gambia host Benin in Bakau on November 17.

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