Self-doubt and goalscoring drought are causes of Algeria’s agony – The Athletic

In the aftermath of Algeria’s loss to Equatorial Guinea in the second match of Group E of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the Algerian Football Federation released a curious statement on its website.

“The Algerian Football Federation (FAF) wishes to inform the sporting public that at no time has it called on any exorcist (Raki) to come to Cameroon in order to render its ‘services’ to the players of the team. national, as part of its participation in CAN TotalEnergies – Cameroon 2021.”

Social media was inflamed with rumors that a spiritual healer was on his way to save the national team and exorcise the Fennecs goalscoring demons.

In retrospect, stealing in any kind of help might not have been such a bad idea.

Heading into their last game of the group stage against Ivory Coast, Algeria led all AFCON teams with 63% average possession, and they also led all teams with the most touches in the opposing penalty area (23 per 90 minutes).

“I don’t think we are unrecognizable in terms of style of play,” coach Djamel Belmadi told a pre-match press conference. “We just lack efficiency,” he concluded.

In an effort to build more attacking momentum, Belmadi lined his side up in a 4-2-3-1, which he usually avoids, fearing quick counterattacks with his not-the-best wingers to come back.

West Ham United winger Said Benrahma eventually started in this competition, but neither he, Riyad Mahrez nor Youcef Belaili could break Algeria’s goal drought early on.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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