CAIRO – Match winner for Algeria, Riyad Mahrez says that the semifinal win over the Super Eagles has imbued the Desert Foxes with additional confidence which has given them the belief that they are “capable to win” the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Algeria captain Mahrez’s sublime free kick in the dying seconds earned Algeria a 2-1 win over three-time AFCON winners Nigeria on Sunday and a place in the final against Senegal who had earlier defeated Tunisia 1-0 after extra time.
And while receiving the man of the match award after Sunday’s encounter, the 28-year-old said the win over Nigeria was hard-fought especially given the nature of Nigeria’s equalizer which came from the spot following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review and expressed delight at the “unbelievable” feat of making the final of the AFCON for the first time since 1990.
“It was a very, very tough game against a strong team,” the Manchester City forward said. “We were one nil up, the team was good in the game and then this decision with the VAR with the penalty, they scored the penalty and we had this freekick at the end of the game and we scored. So, I think we are very, very happy because to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations is something unbelievable.”
Algeria have put up an impressive showing throughout the tournament and have arguably been the best side after winning their first four games without conceding a goal and then showing remarkable grit and doggedness to oust West African powerhouses Ivory Coast and Nigeria in quick succession.
Their run in the competition, Mahrez said had given them a confidence which has been boosted by the nature of their victory against Nigeria. And ahead of the final clash against yet another West African side Senegal who they beat 1-0 in the group stage, Mahrez says his side are more confident than ever of winning a second ever AFCON title for Algeria.
“I think we’ve been very good in this tournament. We’ve scored twelve goals and only conceded two, we have already the confidence and this game has given us more confidence to play in the final. It will be another battle, another tough game but I think we are capable to win it. We’ve played Senegal in the group stage; they’re a very good team and we will see.”