Friday Aug 20, 2021. 12:00
Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi says his team will have to be “ready and smart” for the challenge which awaits them at the next Africa Cup of Nations.
The North Africans are the defending AFCON champions after their triumph in Egypt in 2019, and they have been drawn in Group E of the next competition, where they will come up against Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast.
The clash against the Elephants in Douala on January 20 will be especially eagerly-anticipated, given that Algeria knocked the Ivory Coast out of the last AFCON with a penalty shootout win in the quarterfinals.
Yet Belmadi has warned that the Fennec Foxes must not overlook their first two games against the Leone Stars and Nzalang Nacional on January 11 and 16 respectively.
“It’s a group with obviously a ‘big’, the Ivory Coast, that was inevitable,” said Belmadi, as quoted by Afrik.com.
“We have already met the Ivory Coast during the last AFCON in Egypt and everyone remembers this match.
“There are also Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea. The two favourites are Algeria and Ivory Coast, but in Africa there are no small teams.
“All the teams will have to be taken seriously. We have to be ready and smart.”
On the prospect of defending their Nations Cup title, Belmadi said: “Winning a second African Cup of Nations is very difficult.
“When you win a cup, it’s hard to keep your title. Look at France, for example, world champion, she was eliminated in the knockout stages of the Euro.
“Germany, world champion in 2014, was eliminated in the first round at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“We must continue to work and keep this humility,” concluded Belmadi.
Only three nations have managed to defend an AFCON title: Egypt in 1957 and 1959, as well as 2006, 2008 and 2010; Ghana in 1963 and 1965; Cameroon in 2000 and 2002.
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