The Africa Cup of Nations has seen some of the biggest names struggling to make an impact and, yesterday, Sierra Leone's goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara kept Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez at bay and helped claim a famous draw for the minnows against defending champions Algeria.
Sierra Leone are appearing in their first AFCON in 25 years and, as starts to a tournament go, a point against the most recent champions isn't half bad.
Kamara was the star of the show, as his exuberant and brave playing style helped to keep Algeria at bay, and he was emotional in his post-match interview after being award Man of the Match.
Algeria v Sierra Leone: Mohamed Kamara the hero in famous draw for minnows
Algeria have consistently been one of the strongest footballing nations in Africa, dating as far back as the 1980s when they famously beat West Germany at the 1982 World Cup. With Manchester City wide man Riyad Mahrez at their disposal, they claimed the 2019 AFCON title, and entered this year's tournament as one of the favourites to prevail.
Sierra Leone, on the other hand, have struggled to make their mark on the African game, and this is only the third time they have qualified for the continental competition. The last tournament they qualified for was the 1996 edition in South Africa, so this year's tournament in Cameroon has been a long time coming for the Leone Stars.
There couldn't have been many more daunting opening-day tasks than taking on Algeria, but Sierra Leone battled to an emotional 0-0 draw to give themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time ever.
At the centre of their dramatic result was goalkeeper Mohamed N. Kamara of the East End Lions, who stood firm to keep the Algerians out.
Well, stood firm mightn't be the right choice of phrase. His bold confidence in rushing the Algerian attack, charging out of his goal, and playing the ball out from the back, were not only crucial to Sierra Leone's result, but thrilling to watch.
Sierra Leone's goalkeeper absolutely balled out to get his team a draw against defending AFCON champions Algeria 👀pic.twitter.com/W6Lawcvi10
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) January 12, 2022
At the game's conclusion, Kamara was handed the man of the match trophy, and was in tears when presented with the award.
Sierra Leone goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara was named MOTM in his first ever AFCON game, and you can see how much it meant ❤️
He made seven saves and kept a clean-sheet against reigning champions Algeria in a stunning display! 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/9o0bgBkmoQ
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 12, 2022
Mohamed Kamara's emotion is one of the highlights of the Africa Cup of Nations so far, and we're firmly behind Sierra Leone to go far in this tournament.