Sunday Dec 26, 2021. 15:00
Algerian left-back Ramy Bensebaini says he would rather defend the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title than qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – though he hopes the Fennec Foxes can achieve both aims next year.
Algeria head to the upcoming AFCON in Cameroon as defending champions, having claimed the 2019 title in Egypt. The North Africans will face Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast in Group E of the tournament, which will run from January 9 to February 6.
The Fennec Foxes are also through to the final round of qualification for the 2022 World Cup, where they will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent over two legs in March, with the winners qualifying for the global showpiece in Qatar.
Bensebaini, who plays his club football with Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany, reckons defending the Nations Cup title is more important that appearing at the World Cup.
And Algeria’s hopes of winning the AFCON have been boosted by solidarity in the squad, with Bensebaini explaining that coach Djamel Belmadi treats all players the same regardless of whether they are locally-based or play their club football in Europe.
“It is true that the coach has a good group,” added the defender. “He has a lot of players which gives him a lot of choices.
“As for what makes us strong, as I said before, we are really like a family. We all get along great.
“There is no difference between the player who plays in Europe and the one who plays in Algeria or Tunisia for example. So the group is really supportive.”
Algeria will open their AFCON campaign with a clash against Sierra Leone in Douala on January 11.