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Africa Cup of Nations qualifying: Five big observations

Less than four months after Algeria defeated Senegal to clinch the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations title, qualifying for the 2021 edition has begun, with a series of fascinating fixtures across the continent during the international break.

There were shocks aplenty, several fine performances, and a handful of individuals who stood out above the rest. Here are Ed Dove's five big observations from the opening two rounds of Afcon qualifying.

Afcon champions remain the team to beat

Six teams took the maximum...

By ESPN Staff

Afcon qualifiers: Ghana beat South Africa; Algeria start defence right

Ghana defeated South Africa in African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Algeria thrashed Zambia 5-0 on Thursday in a successful start to the defence of their continental crown, winning their opening qualifier for the 2021 African Cup of Nations 117 days after lifting the trophy.

Baghdad Bounedjah scored twice, one from the penalty spot, with Ramy Bensebaini, Youssef Belaili and substitute El Arabi Hilal Soudani completing a pleasing performance for the home fans in Blida.

Thomas Partey's long-range shot gave Ghana the lead and 19-year-old debutant Mohammed Kudus added...

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Algeria fans know how to party

ICYMI, Algeria won their second African Cup of Nations title on Friday night by beating Senegal 1-0.

Baghdad Bounedjah's second minute goal was bizarre as it took a massive deflection...

Algeria's AFCON title win wasn't pretty but will remain memorable

CAIRO -- Algeria's players ran toward the swaying mass of green and white behind the goal, some swinging from the crossbars while others could barely contain themselves from running into the stands and allowing themselves to be submerged in 15,000 of their jubilant, incredulous countrymen.

This meant everything: It meant a first Africa Cup of Nations title for almost three decades, and it meant a fresh surge of optimism for a country that has been in the throes of revolution this year.

The tears...