The Algerian national team won the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in its history. The Desert Warriors defeated Senegal in the finals of AFCON with a minimal result, 1-0, after a very unattractive game. At some points, the clash at the International Stadium in Cairo reminded more to a classic fight and had little to do with football.
Algeria stunned the Lions and got the lead after only two minutes of play. Baghdad Bounedjah scored following his shot from the edge of the box, which deflected off one player and hit the back of Senegal’s net.
After that, we saw almost nothing from football. Senegal had more ball possession, but they couldn’t breach Algeria’s defensive line. In the meantime, the Desert Warriors often played rough, making reckless tackles, while on the other side, they tried to lay down as long as possible when suffered a foul.
It was decadent football, but it gave the result in the end. We need to say that even though they won the tournament like this, Algeria was the best side in Egypt. They haven’t lost a single game, recording six wins and a draw against Ivory Coast, whom they eliminated following a penalty shootout. They also allowed only two goals, and defeated Senegal twice, proving their worth.
Following the match, their coach Djamel Belmadi was thrilled how his players behaved during the last few weeks. He stated that his presence was far less important than the players’ effort and dedication.
“Without the players I am nothing,” said Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi.
“They are the main ones. I suppose the staff played its part in guiding the players, but they applied the instructions incredibly well.”
Still, it was his tactical thoughts which pushed Algeria towards the trophy. Although it wasn’t appealing and attractive for watching, his every move had a positive impact on the final outcome.
Meanwhile, Senegal failed to win their first-ever AFCON. Sadio Mane and the boys were very motivated, but they just couldn’t find a crack in rival’s defense. That was what their coach Aliou Cissé admitted after the match.
“We played well and had our chances over the course of the match, but against this aggressive bloc we couldn’t find a solution,”
the 43-year-old told reporters.
Senegal did have the statistics on their side, with 62% of the ball possession, 12 goal attempts compared with only 2 of the Algerians and more than twice as much completed passes 231-113. But none of this helped them. They allowed two goals at this AFCON, and both of them were against the Desert Warriors in two separate matches. Senegal lost them with 0-1, and believe it or not, those are the only defeats in the latest 14 events this side played.
The tournament in Egypt ended in a bit surprising manner, without the host nation at least among four teams. The Pharaohs were the biggest favorite to win the trophy, and their elimination in the Round of 16 against South Africa is one of the noisiest surprises in the previous few editions of this competition.
The next AFCON is scheduled for 2021, and the host nation is Cameroon. It will be the 33rd edition of this prestigious tournament which was originally planned to take place in Ivory Coast, but they got the one after that, in 2023.