The Desert Foxes are the Champions of Africa
The Desert Foxes won the Total African Cup of Nations for the second time, after a deflected Bounedjah’s strike handed them a 1-0 victory over Senegal.
“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.”
Important Victory for Algeria
The victory means everything for Algeria – it meant a fresh surge of optimism for Algeria a country that has endured the anguish of revolution this year. It is their first triumph at the African cup of Nations for almost three decades.
Their elation was evident after the final whistle when the Algeria’s players ran towards the swaying mass of green and white; some were swinging from the crossbars and others could not help but run into the stands and allowing themselves to be engulfed by their 15,000, overjoyed countrymen.
Senegal dominated for large periods of the match but were unlucky not to score. M’Baye Niang was responsible for two of their best chances as he flashed a vicious drive over the bar just before the break, and rounded keeper Rais M’bolhi early in the second half only to shoot wide from a tight angle.
The Decisive Moment
The decisive moment for Senegal was the reversal of the decision to award a penalty on the hour mark. Ismaila Sarr’s cross was blasted straight at Adlene Guedioura’s arm, referee Neant Alioum pointed to the spot, but, just as the Senegal players started celebrating the decision, he quickly indicated that a VAR review was under way. After watching the replays on the pitch-side monitor, which clearly showed Guedioura’s arm being by his side, Alioum reversed the decision. Although the decision was correct, the result was harsh on Senegal.
Mane vs Mahrez
The game was billed by many as the battle between Liverpool’s Mane and City’s Mahrez, but both were on the sidelines and did not make much of an impact in the encounter. Mahrez lack of contribution was largely as a result of The Desert Foxes defensive strategy after taking the early lead.
Mane was the player Algeria feared most and every touch of the ball by him was met with boos from the fans and aggressive defending. He was only able to show glimpses of his pace and danger, mainly because of fatigue as a result of a long season for both club and country.
Algeria were very lucky to get their first goal from a deflected shot by Bounedjah, but they capitalized on their good fortune. Their defense was impenetrable all tournament and were able to counter all the attacks thrown at them by Senegal. The Lions of Teranga were very close this time but they needed to be more clinical in their finishing. At the end one goal was enough for Algeria to win the tournament.