AFCON: The flabbergasting performance of Algeria

By on 25th January 2022

The Africa Cup of Nations happening in Cameroon only gifted some nightmares for Algeria, the current champions. There was not even a single positive note that the team could take after getting knocked out embarrassingly in the group stages.

The Fennec Foxes had gone into the tournament as favourites with an unbeaten run dating back to 2018. However, they failed to win a single game and are on their way home after the group stage. They arrived in Cameroon just weeks after winning the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar and with an unbeaten streak dating back to 2018.

In 2019, Algeria won the African Cup of Nations, achieving a 1–0 victory against Senegal in the final. The title was Algeria’s second ever and first since 1990.

Before the tournament started, the team was highly spirited, and by winning the FIFA Arab Cup, everyone had the feeling that the team led by Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez would have the last laugh in Cameroon.

A week before the AFCON started, Algeria defeated Ghana 3-0 in a friendly in the United Arab Emirates. But nothing went according to the team or as the fans predicted. It was a tournament to forget for the Algerian National Team.

They started the tournament in the worst way. The Fennecs opened their campaign with a goalless draw as they were held by a hard-fighting Sierra Leone who last appeared at the AFCON in 1996.

Even if they could not grab all three points, the team was sure that they would be able to turn it around after winning the next two games.
The second match was against Equatorial Guinea, ranked 114th in the football rankings. A match where the team can grab all three points easily. But after the hectic 90 minutes, this was not the case. It was a shocking 1-0 defeat that left Algeria on the brink of elimination, having not scored a single goal with a forward line that included Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez. Esteban Obiang’s 70th-minute goal gave Equatorial Guinea the victory and brought Algeria’s 35-game unbeaten record crashing to an end.

” It ends (Algeria’s unbeaten run). What do you want, we are in a tough position. We are in a difficult situation, a big difficult situation that we have not experienced for a long time. I’ll tell you that we are in a tough period, a really tough one,” said Djamel Belmadi, Algeria head coach.

After the second group match, the positivity around the team changed. They had to do the impossible to win against Ivory Coast and keep their chances of progressing to the Round of 16.

But they were outplayed by the Ivorians, and they were thrashed out of the tournament. Franck Kessie, Ibrahim Sangare and Nicolas Pepe scored for Ivory Coast. Riyad Maherz missed a penalty, but Sofiane Bendebka grabbed a consolation. Their first goal in the tournament.

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