Algeria get the better of S Africa to dent Olympic dream

Algeria dented South Africa’s chances of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games when they beat Owen da Gama’s side 2-0 in their Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations semifinal in Dakar, Senegal on Wednesday.

With Nigeria having confirmed the first spot at the Rio Olympics following a 1-0 win over hosts Senegal, South Africa will now meet the latter for the final qualification slot on Saturday to determine who joins Algeria and Nigeria in Rio de Janeiro next August.

It was not vintage South Africa on Wednesday and the 2-0 scoreline told the entire story. They were well beaten by a well organised Algeria side.

The North Africans were out of the blocks early and caused South Africa problems as early as the first minute but da Gama’s boys didn’t take notice of the early warning.

It came as no surprise when Algeria took an early lead in the ninth minute through Oussamma Darfalou who lobbed over Jody February when the swift Algerians caught the South Africans backline flat-footed. From there on, Owen da Gama’s side were always going to chase the game.

After the goal, the North Africans were all over South Africa and in the 16th minute, again forced February to make a fine save as they searched for the second goal.

Gift Motupa could have done better when he was set up by Riyaad Norodien but blazed his effort over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

It was Algeria who again showed more purpose in the second half and doubled heir advantage as Mohamed Benkhemassa collected a loose ball from a corner kick and rifled home an unstoppable shot past the diving February to give the North Africans a 2-0 lead on the 50th min.

Deolin Mekoa could have done better in the 62nd minute after a good cross by Abbubakar Mobara but failed to connect when the keeper was well beaten.

The miss summed up South Africa’s disappointing evening and will now hope to pick themselves up for the match against wounded Senegal.