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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 January, 2004, 19:59 GMT
Algeria 1-1 Cameroon
By Osasu Obayiuwana
BBC Sport in Sousse

Eto'o Fils was a constant threat to the Algerian defence
Cameroon 1-1 Algeria

Algeria battled to a draw against defending champions Cameroon in their opening Group C encounter.

Patrick Mboma proved he was worth his late call-up, heading his side into the lead just before the break.

Brahim Zafour equalised early in the second half when he fired home a low shot from a poor clearance.

Samuel Eto'o's close-range effort and then a header from Timothee Atouba almost gave Cameroon the win but it was not to be.

We should have won. We had many chances but didn't take them
Cameroon goal scorer Patrick Mboma

Cameroon deserved their half-time lead after Japan-based Mboma put them ahead in the 44th minute.

The former African Footballer of the Year headed home from close range after latching onto a cross from Chelsea's Geremi Njitap.

But the north Africans, backed by a partisan crowd that made the Group C tie feel like a home encounter, put themselves back into contention soon after the break.

Zafour sent the supporters into a frenzy in the 51st minute firing home a poorly-cleared corner kick.

The equaliser was a fitting reward for Algeria's enterprising play.

Algeria appealed for two penalty chances, which could have changed the course of the game.

The first came after eight minutes when goalkeeper Kameni appeared to bring down Abdelmalek Cherrad, but it only resulted in a booking for the Algerian for feigning injury.

Early in the second half, a second appeal also fell on deaf ears as Cameroon captain Rigobert Song appeared to handle the ball in the area.

After Egypt's 2-1 victory over debutants Zimbabwe earlier in the day, both Algeria and Cameroon will need an emphatic result in their second games to topple the group leaders.

Cameroon: 1-Idriss Carlos Kameni; 2-Jean-Joel Perrier Doumbe, 13-Lucien Mettomo, 4-Rigobert Song, 3-Bill Tchato (5-Thimothee Atouba 64); 8-Geremi Fotso Njitap, 7-Modeste Mbami, 19-Eric Djemba Djemba, 18-Mohamadou Idrissou (22-Daniel Ngom 86); 9-Samuel Eto'o, 10-Patrick Mboma

Algeria: 12-Lounes Gaouaoui; 4-Samir Beloufa (13-Brahim Zafour 46), 5-Salim Aribi, 15-Karim Ziani, 21-Antar Yahia; 6-Yazid Mansouri, 8-Naserdine Kraouche (20-Fodi Hadjadj 85), 10-Djamel Belmadi (22-Hocine Achiou 78), 19-Mamar Mamouni; 7-Abdelmalek Cherrad, 11-Mansour Boutabout

Referee: Codja Coffi (Benin)

Zimbabwe 1-2 Egypt
25 Jan 04  |  African Cup of Nations
DR Congo 1-2 Guinea
25 Jan 04  |  African Cup of Nations

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