Algeria were handed a World Cup reality check when supposed minnows Malawi meted out a 3-0 thrashing to the Desert Foxes in the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday.

Malawi were whipped 3-0 by Algeria on their only previous appearance in this competition 26 years ago.

But thanks to Russel Mwafulirwa, Ivis Kafoteka and Davie Banda, it was Algeria who were on the wrong side of a lopsided scoreline this time around.

After Sunday's 4-4 draw between Angola and Mali these three points put Malawi in a strong position to make it out of Group A and into the quarter-finals.

The game was held in a near ghostly silence, with all but a couple of hundred of the stadium's shiny new 50,000 seats vacant.

You could have heard a pin drop, or a ball kicked, and the atmosphere, for want of a better word, was in stark contrast to Algeria's last competitive fixture, in the cauldron of Khartoum, which sealed their World Cup ticket at the expense of bitter rivals Egypt.

Mwafulirwa put Malawi into a 17th minute lead when the Swedish second division striker pounced on a mistake by Algeria keeper Faouzi Chaouchi.

Rafik Saifi could have levelled shortly after but the Al-Khor midfielder's lob over Malawi stopper Swadick Sanudi went the wrong side of the crossbar.

On 35 minutes Malawi deservedly extended their advantage when Moses Chavula swept the ball into the box from the left with Kafoteka's' bullet header leaving Chaouchi bewildered.

Malawi went into the break sensing sweet revenge and the second half was only in its infancy when Banda first hit the near post and then slammed the ball past Chaouchi on the rebound to turn the screw.

Algeria were having trouble breaking down Malawi's tight defence although Abdelmalik Ziaya and Saifi both had headers on target.

Malawi held on comfortably enough, avoiding an Angolan-style last-quarter collapse for their first ever win in the competition.