Belmadi plays down Algeria’s AFCON chances

Edwin  - CEO January 3, 2024
Updated 2024/01/05 at 2:30 AM
3 Min Read
Djamel Belmadi
Djamel Belmadi

As former Desert Fox attempts to take the pressure off his side



Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has played down the chances of the Desert Foxes ahead of this month’s TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023.


The former international attempted to take the pressure off his side, claiming they were not among the favorites, insisting other sides stood a better chance of winning the title.


Belmadi stated that hosts Cote d’Ivoire were the team to beat at the tournament starting on 13 January.


He cited the Ivorians and other contenders like Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Nigeria as excellent contenders compared to the defending champions.


“We are arriving at this tournament slowly but surely, with a lot of certainty,” Belmadi said when unveiling his squad for the continent’s flagship football competition.


“But we are reminded of our elimination from the first round of the last edition, followed by our failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.”


He added: “De facto, we are not favorites.”


It contrasts sharply with Belmadi’s bullish statements before Algeria’s triumphant 2019 TotalEnergies AFCON campaign in Egypt.


On that occasion, the coach correctly predicted his side would stun the continent by returning the trophy to Algiers.


This time, he is keen to reduce expectations on a team still recovering from the pain of recent setbacks.


Algeria did not even reach the knockouts at the 2021 TotalEnergies AFCON in Cameroon two years ago or qualify for the 2022 World Cup.


But Belmadi still backed his players to perform in Cote d’Ivoire, saying: “We will go there to obtain an optimal result.”


Algeria is embarking on a 10-day training camp in the Togolese capital of Lome and playing two friendlies before flying to Cote d’Ivoire for the finals.


Despite his caution, few would write off a talented Algeria squad containing the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Youcef Belaili.


Under the guidance of Afcon mastermind Belmadi, the North Africans have abundant pedigree and quality.


While the boss of the Desert Foxes may be downplaying their chances, Algeria remains a severe contender to recapture their continental crown.


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