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African Nations Cup: Belmadi leads the “warriors” of Algeria to the second title


Nicosia: The 2019 edition of Egypt ended with several titles, in particular the joy of Algeria for the second title after a wait of 29 years, and the disappointment of an early exit for the Egyptian team, which was trying to improve their record on its own soil. The tournament, the largest in the history of the continent with 24 teams instead of 16, included a series of stations etched in the memory, from Madagascar, who arrived in the quarter-finals on his first participation, to an unexpected performance of the stars led by The Moroccan Hakim Ziyech, with the stands almost empty in several matches. Algeria waited a long time between its titles. After being crowned on their soil in 1990, the “Desert Warriors” have been absent from the continental throne for nearly three decades and needed an experienced coach named Djamel Belmadi to draw the second star on their green jersey and turn the page on disappointments. suffered in recent years. Algeria won the second title with a renewed victory in this tournament, with the same result (1-0), on coach Aliou Cisse and star Sadio Mane, and the Senegal team, which was the best African team according to the International Federation (FIFA) ranking. On the way to winning the title, the star’s mates Riyad Mahrez overcame Guinea in the final price 3-0, Ivory Coast 4-3 on penalties (1-1) and then Nigeria in semifinal 2-1. Algeria also closed the tournament with a domain of individual awards: midfielder Ismail Bennacer, best player, Rais Mbolhi, best goalkeeper, and Belmadi, best coach, while the title of top scorer, which was in favor of the Nigerian Odion Ighalo ( 5), escaped. On the other hand, the Pharaohs team confidently entered the fifth tournament in home. The holder of the record in the number of titles (7), he found history on his side, since in he had previously been crowned three times in the previous four stations in which the African nations had landed in Egypt. In his ranks, Mohamed Salah, one of the most important players in the world, is physically ready (unlike what he had been at the 2018 World Cup in Russia due to the effects of the injury), and psychologically after having crowned his team, Liverpool, with the European Champions League title, and morally with the enormous support expected at the Cairo Stadium. But things did not go as the Egyptians would have liked. A difficult one-goal victory against Zimbabwe in the first game, justified by the pressure of the opening and the expectations of 75,000 fans at the Cairo Stadium, and around 100 million outside it. The team advances and closes the first round with full points and net goals, but with the repercussions of the controversy that arose on Amr Warda and his exclusion after the accusations of “harassment”, his return after the pressure of the players, the split fans and their criticism of the Rossoneri, led by Salah, spearhead in asking forgiveness for the player. – Shock of Egypt – The play-off, and the surprise came with a South African goal five minutes from the final whistle at the final price, and the silence of the fans in campo did not understand what they saw, and a torrent of criticism of the players and the coaching staff led by Mexican Javier Aguirre, overthrown in The same evening, in a shock wave that also included the resignation of Federation President Hani Abu Rida. The “Atlas Lions” established themselves as candidates from the first round. Led by Frenchman Herve Renard and players like Ziyech, who emerged a season ago with Ajax Amsterdam, Mubarak Boussoufa and Achraf Hakimi, the Moroccans finished the group stage with flying colors and without goals, like Egypt and Algeria. He solved what was not counted in the final price, falling on penalties to Benin. The biggest surprise was that Ziyech, who didn’t show everything he had in the tournament, got the opportunity to save a penalty kick in the fourth minute of injury time, but the post was looking for him, and the match turned ended with the victory on penalties for the modest Benin team. (AFP)

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