Host Taifa Stars started brightly and just two minutes into game TP Mazembe forward Thomas Ulimwengu beat the Algerian defense to set up club-mate Mbwana Samatta who couldn’t find the goal from the six-yard box, with Algerian goalkeeper Ras M’bolhi already beaten.
Tanzanian Premier League top scorer, Elias Maguli headed home a cross from Mwinyi Haji two minutes before the breather to give the hosts a first half lead.
Despite Algerian dominance in the opening minutes of the second half, it was Tanzania who doubled their advantage in the 54th minute through Samatta. The TP Mazembe striker weaved his way into the box before curling a spectacular left-footed shot inside the top corner of the net that left goalkeeper M’bolhi without a chance.
Till then, save for the guilty misses Tanzania did not look a side more than a hundred places below Algeria in the FIFA ranking until a double substitution by coach Charles Mkwasa that changed what promised to be a great win into a frustrating stalemate.
Mkwasa replaced holding midfielder, Mudathir Yahya and goal scorer, Maguli with the attack-minded duo of Mrisho Ngassa and Said Ndemla in search of a third goal.
With those changes, Slimani, Riyad Mahrez and Nabil Bentaled found more room to operate.
The comeback began on 71 minutes when Slimani who had gone virtually unnoticed till that moment beat the offside trap to send the ball into the back of the net from a cross from the left.
Four minutes later, Slimani rounded Taifa Stars goalie Ally Mustapha and struck the near post to complete his brace that means Algeria will approach the return leg at home needing a win of any sort or a 1-1 draw to seal a place in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
In a post-match interview, Mkwasa admitted his second half substitutions had the opposite effect intended and allowed Algeria back into the game but promised to fight back in the return leg in Blida next Tuesday.
“It is going to be very, very tough for us in Algeria, but they made it here, we can also make it in their own backyard,” declared Mkwasa.