Aymen Mahious wrote his name in the history books as the scorer of the first ever goal at the new Nelson Mandela Stadium as hosts Algeria edged Libya 1-0 in the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 opener on Friday.
The Desert Foxes’ forward was brought down in the 18-yard box by Libyan goalkeeper Muad Allafi after he was late in his attempt to stop a misplaced back pass from Libyan midfielder Aboulqassim Rajab.
Referee Tom Abongile made no mistake when he pointed to the spot.
Mahious calmly slotted the ball into the left corner sending Allafi the wrong way in the 57th minute to send the home crowd into resounding celebrations that could be heard across the Algerian capital and across the country.
The Desert Foxes who had been in control of their destiny from the first minute of the game and had outplayed Libya in the first half had registered 64% ball possession with at least one of their seven attempts at goal on target.
Head coach Madjid Bougherra celebrated the goal while encouraging his players to maintain their focus because there was so much football to be played.
Libya climbed out of the dark hole they had gone into after conceding 12 minutes from the halftime break and launched a series of runs at the Algerian goal.
It was in the 75th minute that Libya came very close to equalizing when from a perfectly executed cornerkick, Libya captain Ali Ramadhan Ali was very unlucky to have his fine effort hit the post to further rattle the home side who had somewhat become comfortable.
Omar Alkhja also sent a strong shot at goal, but it was quickly pushed away by Algerian goalkeeper Alexis Guendouz to ensure the hosts remained intact.
Algeria regained their confidence to hold off a strong Libyan charge even in the 96th minute when substitute Talal Farhat had an opportunity to equalize through a free-kick on the edge of the box but sent his attempt into the Algerian wall.
Bougherra’s side will be thankful to the 40,000 fans that sang and cheered them on right from their warm-up session to inspire a deserved victory in the tournament opener.
With this victory, Algeria are top of Group A with three points while Libya sit bottom.
The second game of Group A will see Ethiopia facing Mozambique on Saturday, 14 January at the same venue at 1300 GMT.