AMBITIUOS DESERT FOXES, A THREAT TO THE CONTINENTAL GIANTS
In an era when the threat of ebola seems to be outweighing the euphoria that comes with a nation’s cup, it is only a responsibility of the media to hype the impending continental show piece. Having seen its initial host nation leaving the whole continent at sea because of the fear of the ebola pandemic, the current host can only be complimented for their bravery despite the short time for them to prepare as a host nation.
With 16 titles shared among the competing nations assembled, 711 matches played together, the 908 goals scored by the competing nations should have called for a better attention that the tournament is currently receiving. As part of our duty to educate and inform our cherished readers globally, we go the extreme length in profiling all the sixteen nations into details.
From Malabo to Mongoma, the resurgent dessert foxes to the deceitful elephants of ivory coast, the series looks to update readers on the details of the greatest continental show piece in Africa. It is only proper if we profile them chronologically, hence Algeria before any other nation.
ALGERIA: RESURGENT FOXES THREATENS TO REPEAT THE 1990 HEROICS
In an era when the Arabian nations are beleaguered with in fighting and national crisis, the dessert foxes of Algeria have surprisingly put themselves as one of the tournament favourites.
Headed by French man in Christian Gourcuff, the Algerians national team looks as good as any African nation can assemble, not least how they qualified. With majority of their players plying their trade in Europe, the BBC African footballer of the year might be long overdue for the Foxes most popular player, Yacine Brahimi. Supported by the likes of Valencia based Soufiane Fegouli, the desert Foxes qualified with a plumb, even without conceding a goal in open play.
Their 4 goals conceded in the 563 minutes of qualifiers tell you how solid their defensive unit can be, though 2 of those goals were conceded in the last match when they had already qualified. Mathematical at best
Their 1990 wining squad might revolve around former star, Rabbah Mahjer, but this current team is as good in any position as you can imagine.
With their midfield combination all featuring in either the English premiership or the Spanish la liga, any pundit may not over rule a pairing of Nabil Bentalib (tottenham spurs), Yacine Brahimi (Fc Porto) Mehdi Abeid (Newcastle united) with the prolific islam Slimani leading the attack for the solid foxes.
The good thing about the team in the qualification was on their overall team performances, scoring a goal every 51.9 minutes, bettered by only Ghana and ivory coast. The telepathic play exhibited the team in Brazil was replicated in the qualification zone, as they dispatched all in front of them.
Their qualification campaign may look threatening, but can they replicate that against Ghana, South Africa, and Senegal en route to the ultimate trophy?
HEAD TO HEAD WITH GROUP OPPONENTS
History might not favour the Algiers as their nations cup history does not always reflect how they qualified. From their 14 previous appearances since their debut in 1968, the 1990 nations’ cup winners have played a total of 60 matches, winning a paltry 20 whiles scoring 69 goals in the process.
Their 72 goals shipped in however speaks volumes of their defensive woes at the tournament, as only DR Congo, ivory coast and Tunisia conceded more than the foxes of the qualified nations. In short their brief history in the nation’s cup is tabulated below
Played-60, won-20 drawn – 18 lost-22 scored- 69 conceded-72
Their head to head records of their group members can be seen below:
Nation P W D L
S. AFRICA 3 0 2 1
GHANA 11 4 3 4
SENEGAL 18 9 5 5
STAR PLAYER TO WATCH:
If Yacine Brahimi can find the kind of form that saw him win the best African player in la liga or the BBC African footballer of the year in 2014, then it will be difficult to look beyond the former Malaga man, who now plies his trade with Porto in Portugal. Supported by house hold names like Soufiane Fegouli, Nabil Bentalib, Islam slimani and Is-hak Belfodil, asking for the star player in this all round team may be pressing for any neutral pundit.
The Foxes are not individual players but collectively make a solid and a well oiled machine. Are they ready to end their 24 year wait of the continental title?
Only 6 matches await them and their destiny.
The squad to be used by Christian Gourcouff in his mission to join a list of elite expatriate coaches to have won the continental show piece is seen below:
Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi (Philadelphia Union, USA), Doukha Izzeddine (JS Kabylie) Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Madjid Bougherra (Fujaira, UAE), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli, Italy), Rafik Halliche (SC Qatar, Qatar), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims, France), Carl Medjani (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Djamel Mesbah (Sampdoria, Italy), Mehdi Zeffane (Lyon, France)
Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham, England), Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Portugal), Medhi Lacen (Getafe, Spain), Saphir Taider (Sassuolo, Italy), Mehdi Abeid (Newcastle United, England), Foued Kadir (Real Betis, Spain)
Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain, Tunisia), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, Spain), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City, England), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia), Ishak Belfodil (Parma, Italy).
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