By Sedara Philip
Captain Moslem Anatouf led from the front, literally, scoring twice as hosts Algeria began their TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations campaign on a winning note, with a 2-0 victory over debutants Somalia at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers on Saturday.
The Young Desert Foxes made the most of their home advantage to take an early lead in Group A against a Somali side that did well to prove its worth, but were not clinical enough infront of goal.
After a period of dominance in the opening exchanges, Algeria finally found the back of the net after 21 minutes courtesy of a defensive mistake from the Somali side.
Anatouf brilliantly read a backpass from Abdilrahman Ahmed intended for the keeper, and the Algerian skipper intercepted, dribbled beyond the shot stopper and broke the deadlock.
Algeria continued to dominate, spurred on by the goal.
On the other end, Somalia almost had a goal out of nothing when Abdilrahman tried his luck with a shot from distance, but the Algerian keeper Mastias Hammache made a great finger-tip save.
Algeria almost took a 2-0 lead to the break after a counter, but Shain Chetioui had his curling effort well saved by the goalkeeper.
In the second half, the hosts needed just six minutes to double their tally, skipper Anatouf adding his second of the evening after sliding through at the near post to connect to a corner on the volley.
Despite Somalia’s growth in confidence, enjoying possession and passing the ball around well as the game progressed, they were not clinical in the final third.
The home side will now switch their attention to their second match of the group, a tougher assignment against Senegal next Tuesday, while Somalia will take on Congo.