Algerian football league kicks off
By Lyes Aflou for Magharebia in Algiers – 08/08/08
Algeria's national football league launched the new season on Thursday (August 7th) with several matches. In one shutout, USM Alger defeated CAB Bourdj Bou Arreridj 3-0. USM Blida also notched up a 2-1 victory over newly-promoted MC El Eulma. Meanwhile, last year's runners-up ASO Chlef caused an upset by beating MC Saida 1-0 away. The winners of the Algerian Cup, JSM Bejaia, started the season in similarly victorious style with a 1-0 win over MSP Batna at home.
Mouloudia Club d’Alger, who narrowly escaped relegation last season, drew 2-2 with neighbours and perennial rivals USM El Harrach. The first day's play in the league saw one match postponed, with ES Setif and AS Khroub facing each other on Friday.
And, in a surprising start to the new season, reigning league champions JS Kabylie tied 1-1 against NA Hussein Dey late on Thursday evening. JSK are also the favourites for this year.
The 16 clubs in Division 1 have just returned from a long break spent relaxing and preparing for the 47th season of the Algerian league, which is closely followed by sports fans across the country and abroad.
Conspicuous by their absence are Mouloudia Club d’Oran (MCO), whose relegation to Division 2 sparked angry protests in Oran at the end of last season. This led to rumours that the competition might be overhauled by increasing the number of clubs in Division 1, but the National Football League later denied having any such plans.
This is the first time the club have played outside the top division after a record-breaking 46 years on the trot. The other two sides relegated along with MCO were WA Tlemcen and OM Ruisseau. Their places were taken by USMH from El Harrach, a suburb east of Algiers, who have returned to the top flight after a seven-year absence; Batna (MSPB), who got off to a bad start by losing at home; and MCEE, who are total newcomers to Division 1.
Two upcoming matches, USM Alger vs. JS Kabylie and JSM Bejaia vs. ES Setif have been postponed until Monday at 5pm, the National Football League stated on Thursday, as both teams are due to play matches abroad. JSK will be heading for Sudan to face El Merreikh on the first day’s play in the CAF Cup, while ES Setif are to play in a tournament in Abha, Saudi Arabia, together with Al-Ittihad Essaoudi, El Karama of Syria and FAR Rabat of Morocco.
The other six matches on Day 2 of Division 1 will be fought out on August 14th at 5pm, with the ASO Chlef vs. MC Alger and USM Annaba vs. MSP Batna fixtures to be played behind closed doors.
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