Algeria’s head coach, Djamel Belmadi, has deliberately played down the Desert Foxes’ chances in the upcoming TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, signaling a departure from his confident stance in 2019.
Belmadi strategically shifted focus, asserting that powerhouses like hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Nigeria are more likely candidates for AFCON glory than the defending champions.
Unveiling his squad for the tournament, Belmadi reflected on past disappointments, acknowledging Algeria’s early exit in the last edition and their failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Despite their setbacks, he firmly declared, “De facto we are not favorites.”
This contrasting humility marks a significant departure from Belmadi’s bold predictions that preceded Algeria’s victorious 2019 AFCON campaign in Egypt.
This time, he is intentional about tempering expectations, recognizing the team’s ongoing recovery from recent setbacks, including a lackluster performance in the 2021 AFCON and a World Cup qualification miss.
Nevertheless, Belmadi expressed confidence in his players.
“We will go there with the intention of obtaining an optimal result.” He affirmed.
The Algerian squad, featuring stars like Riyad Mahrez and Youcef Belaili, is set for a 10-day training camp in Lome, Togo, followed by two friendlies before heading to Cote d’Ivoire for the games.
While the coach remains cautious, observers recognize the undeniable talent within the Algerian ranks.
Under Belmadi’s strategic guidance, the Desert Foxes carry a legacy of pedigree and abundant quality.
Despite the coach’s attempt to downplay their chances, Algeria emerges as a serious contender in the quest to recapture their continental crown at the Cote d’Ivoire 2023 AFCON.
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