Friday Nov 19, 2021. 12:00
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has shrugged off criticism of his team after their close shave against Burkina Faso in 2022 World Cup Qualifying earlier this week.
The reigning African champions moved safely through to the final phase on the road to Qatar 2022 on Tuesday night, but their 2-2 home draw with Burkina Faso was not without its nervy moments.
The Burkinabe twice came from behind to level the game, and had they managed a third goal it would have seen them replacing Algeria at the top of Group A and advancing into next year’s playoffs.
This has seen the Fennec Foxes come in for criticism – despite an unbeaten group stage in which they scored the most goals (25) of any team – but Belmadi insists that it was always going to be a tough showdown against Burkina Faso.
“I expected a difficult match,” Belmadi is quoted by Africa Foot United [https://africafootunited.com/algerie-burkina-faso-djamel-belmadi-je-mattendais-a-un-match-difficile/], adding that “if [Riyad] Mahrez had scored the second goal, the match would have been different.”
He continued, “We found difficulties because of the heavy terrain and very difficult climatic conditions. In this kind of match, the main thing is the qualification.”
Belmadi noted, “Look at what is happening in these qualifiers… what happened to Portugal and Italy.”
The pair of European heavyweights did not secure automatic qualification and will have to earn their place at Qatar 2022 via a perilous playoff tournament.
“We cannot always win by 4-0 and 6-0, there is sometimes a real opposition, as is the case of Burkina-Faso, and the important thing is to qualify,” Belmadi explained.
“I am satisfied with my players and I think this match will serve as an experience for them.”
Algeria’s next challenge will be to defend their Africa Cup of Nations title, as they gear up to face Sierra Leone (January 11), Equatorial Guinea (January 16) and Ivory Coast (January 20) in Group E of the continental tournament, slated for early next year.