CAIRO – Algeria’s players “want to write our history” by winning a second Africa Cup of Nations trophy and conquering Nigeria in Sunday’s semi-final will help them take one of “two very difficult steps” towards that stated target Algeria’s head coach Djamel Belmadi says.
For a team with such a rich continental footballing pedigree, it does seem surprising that the Desert Foxes have a solitary AFCON title won on home soil in 1990 to their name. Indeed, that match, a 1-0 victory over Sunday’s opponent Nigeria was the last time Algeria reached an AFCON final.
The France-born former Algerian International believes a contributory factor in the Desert Foxes barren run on the continent is because the tournament has become harder to win with each passing year but says his side “will do our best to win this Cup”.
And as his team gets set to compete in a Nations Cup semi-final for the first time since 2010, Belmadi believes that his squad of players led by former Africa Footballer of the year Riyad Mahrez, has what it takes to emulate players such as Djamel Menad and Djamel Amani who were vital in that 1990 triumph and defeat Nigeria once more on their way to winning a second AFCON title for Algeria.
“The one that we won, it was in 1990 a long time ago and it was at home and since we haven’t won,” the 43-year-old former Paris Saint Germain player said ahead of the Sunday’s semifinal.
“This is away from home and it’s more difficult. Those players that won in 1990 they are great players; massive players, they made history for our football [and] they played in the World Cup in 1982 and in 1986 and had great games.
“We are running behind this target [of winning the Nations Cup]. This is a target for us; we want to write our history as well, these players want to write this history as well. It’s not too far; two more steps but two very difficult steps for this huge achievement.
“We will do our best and try to win this Cup but we have to first of all to beat Nigeria [on Sunday].”