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Algeria qualify for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations

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Algeria football team.PHOTO/File.

Algeria football team.PHOTO/File.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, June 2 – Algeria became the second qualifiers after Morocco for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon by cruising to a 2-0 victory over the Seychelles in Victoria on Thursday.

Yassine Benzia from French club Lille put the Desert Foxes ahead four minutes before half-time at the 10,000-seat Stade Linite in the capital of the Indian Ocean island state.

El Arbi Hillel Soudani, who plays for Dynamo Zagreb in Croatia, scored the second goal on 61 minutes before a crowd that included travelling Algerian supporters.

It was a predictable result given that former African champions Algeria are ranked No. 1 in the continent, 50 places above the Seychelles.

The North Africans achieved success despite lacking three stars with midfielders Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi injured and striker Islam Slimani suspended.

Algeria lead Group J with 13 points from five matches, eight points more than second-place Ethiopia, who play Lesotho in Maseru on Sunday.

Benzia turned quickly inside the penalty area and hooked the ball into the net after the Seychelles failed to clear a cut-back.

Sloppy defending by the islanders also contributed to the second goal with Soudani scoring his fifth of the qualifying competition by reacting quickest to a free-kick and poking the ball into the net.

A further 23 Cup of Nations qualifiers are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the possibility of nine other countries qualifying.

Gabon are automatic participants as hosts in the biennial 16-nation African football showcase next January and February.

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