The Desert Foxes did their South Africa 2010 qualification chances a power of good when they earned a resounding win over arch rivals Egypt. Earlier in the day Benin, Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana all won as expected to maintain their respective challenges, while Cameroon and Morocco cancelled each other out in a potentially damaging goalless draw.
FIFA.com looks back on the day's action in Africa as Matchday 2 of the third and final qualifying phase came to a close.
Any meeting between these two sides always generates huge interest, which explains why the build-up for this crucial Group C duel in Blida began weeks ago. And when match day finally dawned on Sunday, Algeria's TV stations devoted their attention to nothing else. Not surprisingly, there was a sell-out crowd in attendance at the Stade Mustapha-Tchaker and although there was little to entertain the fans in a cagey first half, the pace quickened considerably after the interval.
Matmour put the hosts ahead on the hour mark, taking advantage of some slack Egyptian defending to fire home a left-footed drive from the edge of the area. That marked the beginning of a disastrous 20-minute period for the Pharaohs, who conceded twice more to the delight of the home fans before Aboutrika scored a late consolation goal. Having put one of their avowed enemies to the sword, the Algerians, who stand top of the section on goal difference from Zambia, can now look forward to the rest of the campaign with confidence.
High-profile absentees from Germany 2006, these two sides are under immense pressure to atone for that disappointment this time around. Fate dictated that the continental giants should be thrown together in Group A and when both sides lost their respective opening games, the stakes were raised even higher for this eagerly awaited meeting. The goalless stalemate did little to improve either side's hopes of securing top spot, however, and with section leaders Gabon already five points clear, the two five-time African champions, who also have nine FIFA World Cup™ appearances between them, have much to do if they are to take the one qualification slot available.
Player of the day
Razak Omotoyossi (Benin)
"He's the strongest attacker I've ever played with. It's simple, he's always there to break the deadlock." Benin goalkeeper Yoann Djidonou's warm words of praise for the Nigeria-born striker in a recent interview with FIFA.com were underlined on Sunday when he grabbed the winner against Sudan. Omotoyossi's vital goal took his tally for the qualifiers to seven and allowed the Squirrels to get back on track in Group D after defeat to Ghana in their first match.
Click on the link on the right for all the stats on the Africa Zone and the match reports on Sunday's games.