The hour is serious for Algeria, that few people imagined in such a posture on the morning of the last day of the group stage.
Last in Group E before the last match, the Fennecs are condemned to win against the Elephants of Côte d'Ivoire this Thursday (5 p.m.) or risk seeing their dream of a double come to an abrupt end.
A premature exit that the band at Riyad Mahrez, yet number 1 contender for his own succession, does not even dare to imagine.
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We are ready and motivated,
assured the captain of the national team at a press conference on Wednesday.
The whole nation is behind us.
All the lights are green, we deserve to pass
Same story with his coach Djamel Belmadi: “
We absolutely have to win to continue to exist, it's a big challenge but we know this thing, and we have always responded.
Behind the message of unity and the belligerent rhetoric, the Greens claim to be fully aware of the urgency of the situation.
Attack at half mast
An emergency caused by the surprise rout against the modest Equatorial Guinea (0-1), which in passing marked the end of the impressive series of 35 matches without defeat, just two matches from the record of Italy.
So many signs pointing to the end of the state of grace of the troupe to Djamel Belmadi, yet defending champion since the triumph in Egypt.
Riyad Mahrez and Djamel Belmadi showed determination at a press conference on the eve of the match.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
It's been difficult for three years already,
agreed the coach installed at the head of the team in the summer of 2018.
But Algeria was not unrecognizable in the two matches.
It was rather an ineffective Algeria, which lacked skill.
“A silent Algeria in the last two matches, which had not happened since… the end of 2018 and a defeat in Benin (1-0), the last of the Belmadi era before Sunday.
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Defeated by the fantastic performance of Sierra Leone goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara for their opening match, the Greens then fished in the construction and in the box against Equatorial Guinea.
Various tracks were approached to evoke these two counter-performances, from the climate to the state of the lawn.
The latter was also at the center of the controversy, rumors lending to the Algerian Federation the desire to relocate the match scheduled for Douala.
It's a rumor
, insisted Belmadi, confirming the holding of the match at the Japoma stadium in Douala.
I have my opinion on the lawn but I did not ask for a relocation
Elephants with long teeth
Belmadi assures us that this is not the time for excuses and knows that he "
must make decisions
And perhaps question certain statutes, while the champion team - almost unchanged (two different holders between the CAN 2019 final and the defeat against Equatorial Guinea) - has underperformed since the start of the competition.
The champion's problem is not to fall asleep on his laurels, it's unconscious like France at the Euro
, warned Alain Giresse, coach of Tunisia between 2018 and 2019, before the kick-off of the CAN .
You have to be ready to play the matches according to the configuration that the opposing team wants to beat the champion.
I don't like to talk about revenge but we are very motivated for the match against Algeria
Max-Alain Gradel (Ivory Coast), at a press conference
A configuration that will await the Fennecs against the Ivorians, for the clash announced between the two favorites of the group.
Especially since the Elephants will certainly have an extra soul born from their feeling of revenge after the elimination in the quarterfinals during the 2019 edition (1-1, 4-3 on pens).
Conversely, the Algerians will have to ignore this latest confrontation against a nation that has changed and which traditionally does little for them.
There is a difference between their team of 2019 and that one. The base of the team remains but half of the team has changed,
" notes Belmadi.
I don't like to talk about revenge but it is clear that we are motivated for the match against Algeria",
confided the Ivorian Max-Alain Gradel in a press conference.
Enough to increase the pressure around this group final disguised as a last chance match for Algeria.