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Football: Algeria at a turning point after its elimination from the World Cup

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On the lawn of the Mustapha-Tchaker stadium in Blida, in northern Algeria, the Cameroonians celebrate in fervor their qualification for the World Cup, obtained at the last second thanks to a goal from striker Karl Toko-Ekambi . But this Tuesday evening, March 29, it is on Djamel Belmadi that the cameras are trained. The Algerian coach is kneeling, in tears, on this ground where the Fennecs had never lost until then. The one who had allowed Algeria to rise to the top of African football in July 2019, in Cairo, by winning the African Cup of Nations (CAN) against Senegal, remained frozen and inconsolable for long minutes, despite the gestures of comfort from several leaders of the federation.

Read also: Football: Senegal and Cameroon qualify for the World Cup at the end of the suspense

Shortly before the end of the match, the Algerians, after having conceded a first goal, had nevertheless equalized on a whim from Ahmed Touba. With the success obtained on March 25 in Douala (1-0) in the first leg, qualification for the World Cup seemed certain. At a press conference, Djamel Belmadi, still in shock, recalled that his team had “dominated, shot a lot on goal”but she had “failed ten seconds from the end with a concentration problem”. Then the coach added that it will be necessary quickly “take stock and get up quickly”.

This elimination comes a little more than two months after that experienced in the first round of the CAN in Cameroon. A first humiliation for Algerian football, while the Fennecs had arrived at the continental tournament as favorites, undefeated for 34 games. “The team often won, but we didn’t pay enough attention to the level of play offered and the attitude of some players, who had perhaps settled in a certain comfort”retrospectively analyzes Ali Fergani, former international and former Algerian coach (1995-1996 and 2004-2005).

“The logical continuation of the last CAN”

Since the start of 2021, certain performances had nevertheless alerted some observers, in particular the draw against Burkina Faso in November in Blida (2-2), in qualifying for the World Cup. “There have been several signs in recent months”confirms Yazid Ouahib, head of the daily sports department El Watan : “What happened against Cameroon is the logical continuation of the last CAN, despite the thinning of Douala in the first leg. »

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