Foxes hoping to finish job against Scorpions.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Algerians believe that only a massive upset will deny them the chance of advancing to the final round of African Nations Cup qualifiers as they take on The Gambia at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida on Friday night, kick-off at 7:30 Gambian time.
A 2-1 away win in Banjul in the first leg of their first
round tie in February means Les Fennecs (Desert Foxes) are in the driving seat
in the tie and expected to easily go through into the second and final round of
South Africa 2013 AFCON qualifiers.But the home side do play under a cloud of letting a lead slip and
losing 2-1 last Sunday night in a World Cup tie with Mali.
The Gambia arrived in Algeria on Monday directly from Tanzania, where they had lost in a World Cup qualifier at the weekend to a late penalty.But a week before, the Scorpions had a morale boosting draw with highly-fancied Morocco, which will give them some hope against Algeria. But Luciano Mancini’s side had even never before scored a goal in the North African country in two previous visits and is currently winless in international football for 10 months with its last win dating back from August of last year in a 3-0 friendly win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Vahid Halilhodzic’s side will again look to the leadership of Majid Bougherra in defence and hope that Rafik Djebour might yet return from injury to once again lead the attack. He missed the last match against Mali.Algeria will have to make do without the services of Nadir Belhadj and Karim Matmour who have joined Antar Yahia in announcing their retirement from international football as they put an end to their time representing Algeria on the world and continental stage.
While the former Portsmouth’s player choice did not come
as a major surprise considering his declining number of appearances at
international level as of late, Matmour’s departure was relatively unexpected,
especially considering he is only 26-year-old and that many consider he still
has plenty to offer the Fennecs.
In a statement, the Eintracht Frankfurt striker cited a desire to focus on his club career as the main reason for his choice while peculiarly seeming to leave the door open for a possible return should he regain his form and be deserving of a place in the Fennecs squad.
According to Echorouk, Belhadj had made his choice known to Fennecs coach Vahid Halilhodzic before Algeria’s most recent 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Gambia but the Franco-Bosnian told him to consider his decision further before making it official.
Algeria have hosted Gambia twice before in competitive matches, beating them 1-0 in Algiers in the 2008 Nations Cup qualifiers and 1-0 in Blida in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. There have been five meetings between the two sides in competitive matches and the Fennecs have a slight edge of three wins compared to Scorpions two and there has never been a drawn game between the two in the past.
The Scorpions have to win by 2-0 or at least a one goal win difference of 3-2 and above other than that, any result could see them knocked out or possible extra time and even penalty shoot out to decide the winner. Because of their two goals scored in Banjul from the first leg, Algeria will still qualify if they lose by 1-0.
“Against Gambia, I expect a good reaction from players who I asked to forget the defeat against Mali, and get back to work. We must win this game to gain confidence,” the coach told a press conference held in Algiers in quotes reported by the Algerian Press Agency.
Author: Baboucarr Camara