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The mighty fall in the Algerian Cup

By Lyes Aflou for Magharebia in Algiers – 23/02/10

The second round of the 2010 Algeria Cup on Friday (February 19th) and Saturday (February 20th) saw shocking defeats of top Division 1 teams, while other sides sweated just to score and advance to the next round.

D1 second place contender JSM Bejaia fell on February 19th, and even reigning Algerian Cup champions CR Belouizdad had a tough time in their match-up.

USM Blida upset JSM Bejaia 3-2 in an overtime shootout. JSM defeated USM Blida in the first round of the Cup championships, but dropped Friday's game against its opponent, who has been turning in a lame performance in recent weeks.

Striker Sofiane Younes pushed CR Belouizdad to a slim 2-1 victory with a goal against JD Djidjel. The latter held the game even at a 1-1 tie until the 106th minute, when Younes scored the tiebreaker.

NA Hussein Dey also fell on Friday in a fierce match with ASO Chlef. Embattled keeper Lounes Gaouaoui returned to action that day following an injury and appendicitis, and had his hands full in a match filled with goals and solid assists. ASO Chlef midfielder Mohamed Messaoud broke open a 2-2 tie with a goal in overtime to snatch the victory.

"I thank the players for the effort they put in," NAHD coach Mohamed Mihoubi said. "We would have preferred to have won the game and to get ourselves in gear, but never mind!"

ASO Chlef manager Abdelkrim Medouar also applauded NAHD's performance.

"They didn't give up," he said. "They came back twice from behind. It's a young team and deserves to be ranked among the elite."

Medouar's praise is unlikely to save NAHD, however, which faces demotion after its poor D1 performance this season.

A team of firefighters was no match for JS Kabylie in Tizi-Ouzou February 19th, when JSK demolished ASA Protection Civile 3-0.

Alain Geiger, taking the field for the first time as JSK's head coach, had harsh criticism for his team.

"We didn't play a good game," he said. "We needed to concentrate. The opposition managed to throw us off our rhythm, and some of our players, who don't have so much playing experience, got flustered."

ASA PC coach Houideche had kinder words for JSK.

"I congratulate JSK," he said. "They fully deserve to qualify. It's not easy to beat the Kabylians – they're a top-flight team and they attack on all fronts. Our young team put themselves on the line to make a good impression."

An unspectacular goal from defender Mourad Delhoum was enough to keep ES Setif in the championship race in its February 19th game against MC Saida.

"I think we did what we need to do," ES Setif manager Nourreddine Zekri said. "I'm not going to talk about how we did it – I think that, faced with a team that refused to take risks, there weren't many opportunities to exploit. So I'm coming away happy that we qualified."

USM Annaba knocked MC El Eulma out of the tournament February 20th with a 1-0 win. Djamel Benchergui scored the winning goal in the 34th minute, and USM Annaba relied on a strong defense for the rest of the game to secure the victory.

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